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The biggest little blues festival in Colorado hits Trinidad

Who says big things don't happen in small places.

The Second Annual Trinidaddio Blues & Cultural Festival proves that a pretty big blues festival, with some big names to boot, can happen in a small town, far from a major metropolitan center.

Indeed, the festival should draw folks from far beyond the Huerfano Valley and the plains south of Pueblo. And why not? Several of the acts hitting the stage in Trinidad are flying in from as far away as Texas, Los Angeles and the electric-blues mecca of Chicago.

Topping the bill is Delmark recording artist Tad "Teabags" Robinson, one of the first white vocalists and harmonica players to be signed by the 45-year-old Chicago blues label.

Born in New York City, the 42-year-old Robinson studied music in Indiana before moving to Chicago to learn from the blues masters who would occasionally drop in at the bar where he was playing and sit in with the band.

Among those who dropped by was the late Junior Wells, a god to any younger harp player, known for tasteful, in-the-pocket licks and his long-time association with guitarist Buddy Guy. Backing up Robinson is L.A. blues guitar slinger Alex Schultz, another name well known to both the Delmark label and to many fans of blues guitar.

Another harp master, Alligator recording artist Gary Primich, will also be playing in Trinidad with his Austin, Texas-based band.

Several local and regional acts will also be hitting the stage. From a bit further down south comes the Albuquerque Blues Connection, otherwise known as "ABC" to blues fans of northern New Mexico.

The festival will also feature a few Trinidad natives. Jaquie Gipson plays a blend of folk-blues "and styles that defy description," according to one concert announcement, while Ginos Trio is actually a foursome, according to press releases. Meanwhile Blue Suburban will drive their SUV down from Pueblo for the weekend event.

The festival is the brainchild of Neil Sexton, a longtime blues fan who runs an Internet corporate greeting card company in Trinidad. It all started soon after Sexton moved to Trinidad area from Chicago several years ago.

"When I came to Trinidad, I went to KCRT-FM and asked about doing a blues program and they said, 'Sure, why not?' and the Trinidaddio Blues Hour was born."

But the radio program (which can be heard every Wednesday at 7 p.m. on KCRT 92.5 FM and on www.broadcastmusic.com) was just the beginning. Last spring, Sexton talked to some town economic leaders about doing a festival and as luck would have it, they said "Sure, why not?" too. They offered some seed money to kick things off.

"So I started scrambling," Sexton recalls. "I called Teabags, who's a longtime buddy of mine and a few other friends who are blues fans, and we ran into some good luck getting other musicians, and we pulled it together."

The event was a big success for a first-year festival, drawing over 1,000 people from all over the region, as well as several blues acts from Chicaco, St. Louis and Los Angeles, Sexton said.

There's more than just music to the full-day musical affair, however. About 20 local invited artists will display work along Elm Street, which will be blocked off to traffic for the day.

The festival was also created to get folks to check out the Corazon de Trinidad National Historic District, which includes several museums and shops.

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