So you've had the blue-plate special. Are you ready for the feast? Trinidaddio Blues Fest is back for its sixth year, and it just keeps getting better. Thanks to founder, Neil Sexton, Trinidad and its not-so-little blues fest is putting the Deep South of Colorado on the blues map.
"We started five years ago with a $2,000 grant from the arts council and raised money for a historic preservation project," said Sexton. "About 800 people showed up. We had a breakthrough in our third year when we moved to the Central Park venue; the sponsorship expanded, we started getting nationally renowned acts, and thousands of people came out."
Like many pioneers, Sexton merely noticed a lack of a good/commodity and decided to create his own.
"I'm a longtime blues enthusiast and I showed up after living around a tremendous blues scene in Chicago," said Sexton. "I noticed that there wasn't much going on here, so I decided to start a radio show -- the festival pretty much grew out of those roots."
This year's non-native flowers that have sprung from those roots: Big Jack Johnson and Junior Watson, Toni Lynn Washington, John Mooney, Nick Moss and the Flip Tops, Randy McAllister, and The Albuquerque Blues Connection. Local and regional wildflowers include Tommy Thomas and The Working Man Band, The Cordova Brothers featuring Johnny Watson, Blue Diddley, and Jacquie Gispson.
Big Jack Johnson proves to be no misnomer -- he's the real deal, from Clarksdale, Miss. Suffice to say, he's a badass. Two Grammy Awards, nine W.C. Handy Awards, and three Living Blues Awards are among a few of the notches on his belt. Trinidaddio is a rare chance to catch a master of his craft in action, especially when he happens to be playing with Watson.
Watson hails from Los Angeles and is currently nominated as "Best Blues Guitarist" by both the W.C. Handy Awards and Living Blues magazine. He's a cult guitarist's hero who's been brandished in the fires for more than 30 years, and like Johnson, has achieved just about everything worth boasting about in the blues world.
Mooney and Bluesiana hail from New Orleans. Mooney is to Delta-slide guitar as Charles Dickens is to pen and paper. Mooney studied under the great Son House for slide and under legendary pianist Professor Longhair to master rhythm and syncopation. Expect stomping feet, powerful vocals and the euphoria of vintage steel meeting Mooney's bottleneck slide technique.
Washington hits Trinidaddio from Boston and commands a mighty voice that has raised many an eyebrow over the years. Chicago sends us Nick Moss and the Flip Tops for a taste of old-fashioned blues, while Dallas, Texas, offers McAllister, renowned for his harp blowing, vocals and stage presence.
That covers most of the out-of-towners in the Trinidaddio Blues Fest lineup, but don't forget Colorado's significant contribution to the day. There will be nothing short of the best in Trinidad next weekend.
-- Matthew Schniper
Trinidaddio Blues Fest VI
Presented by the Trinidad Chamber of Commerce, DSK Inc., and the Trinidad Times
Saturday, Aug. 28, starting at 11:30 a.m.; pre-fest party Friday, Aug. 27, 7 p.m.
$15 general admission, $30 limited preferred seating; proceeds will benefit Noah's Ark Animal Welfare, The Fireman's Toy Drive, Advocates Against Domestic Assault and other charities
No pets, coolers, food or drink allowed.
For more information, visit www.trinidaddio.com or call 719/846-9285.