Blues Under the Bridge, Pikes Peak Blues Community announcements add to the sounds of summer 

click to enlarge Blues Under the Bridge festival organizers have announced this year’s full lineup, including headliners Los Lobos. - PARADIGM AGENCY
  • Paradigm Agency
  • Blues Under the Bridge festival organizers have announced this year’s full lineup, including headliners Los Lobos.
Now in its 12th year, the day-long Blues Under the Bridge festival, a perennial favorite among local music fans and blues aficionados, has its new lineup ready to go for Saturday, July 7. Headlining this year’s proceedings beneath the Colorado Avenue bridge are the ever-eclectic, long-running and critically acclaimed L.A.-based act Los Lobos.

Far more than being “just another band from East L.A.,” as the band has enjoyed calling themselves over the years, Los Lobos probably entered the general public’s consciousness with their 1987 cover of Richie Valens’ “La Bamba.” However, the band has been consistently releasing records since 1976’s Sí Se Puede! shifting between acoustic and electric output and dabbling at various points with soul, blues, country, rock, R&B and traditional Mexican music. The band also found a kinship in the early L.A. punk rock scene, with saxophonist Steve Berlin playing in The Flesh Eaters with members of X and The Blasters.

If you need a crash course in all things Lobos, it’s hard to top the world-class musicianship on the band’s 1984 LP How Will the Wolf Survive? but you could also do a lot worse than the band’s most recent album, 2015’s Gates of Gold, which features the appropriately titled “Mis-Treater Boogie Blues.”

Joining Los Lobos for Blues Under the Bridge is the New Orleans-based Chris Thomas King Band, who are among the foremost purveyors of hip-hop/blues fusion. Bandleader King will also be familiar to fans of the 2000 Coen brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou? in which he played the role of Tommy Johnson and performed the Skip James song “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” on the soundtrack.

As an aside, the apocryphal legend of a bluesman selling his soul to the devil in exchange for otherworldly guitar prowess was first associated with Tommy Johnson, though the story later became affixed to the unrelated Robert Johnson. And if someone comes up to you with such a bargain under the Colorado Avenue bridge, I’d suggest passing.

Rounding out this year’s Blues Under the Bridge lineup are Denver roots-rockabilly outfit Kerry Pastine & The Crime Scene, local rascals Grant Sabin & The Juke Joint Highball, and Vegan Wolf. Tickets can be purchased April 1 at bluesunderthebridge.com and eventbrite.com, and I’d recommend setting the date, because they tend to go quickly.

Speaking of the blues, if you know of a high school- or middle school-aged musician who is interested in getting deeper into what is possibly America’s most ubiquitous genre, the Pikes Peak Blues Community is launching a new School of Blues program this year, with auditions taking place March 24 at Stargazers Theatre.
Per director Randy Mummert, the program will form a series of youth bands to be mentored by experienced professionals from the Pikes Peak Blues Community, helping budding singers and instrumentalists learn a repertoire of blues material, delve into the historical and social significance of the genre, and develop skills in improvisation and soloing, song arrangement, stage communication, rehearsal etiquette, and more. For more information, visit the Pikes Peak Blues Community website at pikespeakblues.org.

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