The Metro Fountain Blues Festival was almost dead in the water after losing crucial funding. But thanks to producer Ted Gehrke, who lined up support from the City of San Jose and the Silicon Valley Arts Council, the Fountain Blues Festival will return to Downtown San Jose on Saturday, July 9 for its 31st run. The festival, at its new home in St. James Park in downtown San Jose, will feature an impressive line-up including home-grown blues guitarist Tommy Castro (with special guest Rod Piazza on harmonica), the horn-driven R&B combo Roomful of Blues, sensational showman Guitar Shorty and the talent-laden Metro Fountain Blues Festival Allstars led by JC Smith. I’ve been a huge fan of Tommy Castro for decades, watching him in his early days as lead singer for NiteCry at local bars Lord John’s, #1 Broadway, and JJ’s. He formed the Tommy Castro Band in 1991, and has since gone on to produce award winning albums, tour nationally, and win countless awards. In 2010, he dominated the Blues Music Awards, winning his second B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award, as well as Band of the Year, Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year and Contemporary Blues Album of the Year (for ‘Hard Believer’). Tommy is famed not only for his hard-hitting, impassioned vocals, soaring guitar work and his blues-infused, rocking R&B sound, but also for his striking, original songwriting and exhilarating stage show. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the band live, you won’t want to miss this opportunity. Roomful of Blues features a masterful combination of jumping, horn-heavy, hard-edged blues and R&B, The group’s deeply rooted blend of swing, rock ‘n’ roll, jump, blues and soul has earned it five Grammy Award nominations and a slew of other accolades, including seven Blues Music Awards. With a non-stop performance schedule for over 40 years, Roomful of Blues has earned critical, popular and radio success and a legion of fans around the globe. Legendary guitarist/vocalist Guitar Shorty is a giant in the blues world. Credited with influencing both Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Guy, Guitar Shorty has been electrifying audiences for five decades with his blistering, unpredictable, and off-the-wall guitar playing and his fierce vocals. Through the years, Shorty has performed with blues and R&B luminaries like Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, B.B. King, Guitar Slim and T-Bone Walker. His recordings have received massive critical acclaim, and his renowned live performances have kept him constantly in demand all over the world. Traditionally, the Metro Fountain Blues Festival has always booked a “local” band to open the show. Many great ones have answered the call. The Fountain Blues Festival Allstars, comprised of award-winning local and national talent who have all performed at the prestigious Metro Fountain Blues Festival, includes: Ron E. Beck, legendary drummer for Tower of Power and John Lee Hooker; San Francisco singer-songwriter Stan Erhart; vocalist Lara Price; Mark Fenichel; Maxx Cabello Jr.; JC Smith; Kaye Bohler; Andy Just; Gary Smith; Richard Palmer; and Endre Tarczy. The Allstars band’s success has blossomed to include a sold-out concert in the Villa Montalvo concert series. What: Metro Fountain Blues Festival Where: St. James Park in Downtown San Jose – St. James Street between 1st and 2nd Streets When: Saturday, July 9 Gates open at 11:00 am. Music plays from 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm Tickets: $10. Purchase advance tickets here, or visit www.brownpapertickets.com
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