Sunday, September 21, 2008
Blues Fest 2008 at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park
This year the Bull Durham Blues Fest (in its 21st year) was held at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park instead of the old ballpark, the DAP, because of its ongoing renovations. I took some pictures and included them in this blog entry.
First of all, I thought the new (maybe temporary, maybe not) location was a big hit. The stage was set up behind where 2nd base usually sits, and it's a nice big stage too. To preserve the infield, there was a flooring of interlocking 4 x 4 thick plastic squares laid down. They were great for dancing, and for setting up our folding chairs. Durable and neat and clean. Some vendors were out on the field, and some were up on the concourse. People could sit out with folding chairs on the infield, or sit up in the stands if they preferred. Plenty of room to move around, plenty of clean bathrooms, well lighted, well organized, a wonderful time. Kudos to the Hayti Heritage Center who puts on the event each year. Very nicely done!
The gates opened at 5pm and my friends and I were among the first in, and got a sweet spot on the first row. The weather was beautiful, with a cool hint of fall in the air. It even got chilly enough as the night wore on to pull on our jackets.
Friday evening started out with a band from Charlotte, The Contagious Blues Band, and they were very enjoyable. Next up, I really liked the zydeco music that Rosie Ledet performed and folks got up and danced.
Clarence Carter came out after Rosie Ledet and he played his hits, including the cheesy but fun "Patches" and ended his set with "Strokin'." Nearly the entire audience was up and dancing at that point. The headliner of the night, Marcia Ball, came on stage next and she was fantastic. Her new album is "Peace Love and Barbeque" -- I need to snag that for a bumpersticker incidentally. She plays the heck out of the keyboards. Phenomenal. At the end, she implored us all to "Please vote!" and that she knew that we in Durham "would do the right thing, you know what I mean!"
Saturday night my friends made sure we got front row seats again by sitting on line before the gates the opened. Another sweet fall-like evening and the music started off with Big Road Blues Band who got us revved up for the night. Next up was Bernard Allison.
This guy just floored me. He is unbelievably good and when he finishes, you feel like you've witnessed the blues in concentrated form. I could've listened to him all night. Denise LaSalle came out next and she kept everyone thoroughly entertained. Her patter to the audience was for adults only and I was wondering what the people with kids there might've been thinking. The headliner for Saturday night was Taj Mahal and he was worth the wait.
He came out and played a hollow-bodied electric guitar first that sounded so sweet to me. Then he stepped over to the keyboard and tore the keys up for a few songs. Next he picked up his banjo and played the blues on the banjo. He said, "One thing I like about North Cacalacky is that I can pull out my banjo to play the blues and people won't head for the doors." I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed his set. He even played my favorite song "Queen Bee." I especially loved "Fishing Blues" (youtube link to Taj singing "Fishing Blues") too.
Another great Bull Durham Blues Fest!