The other Russell City

For those who prefer Russell City blues to Russell City power plants, this weekend marks the eighth annual Hayward-Russell City Blues Festival in downtown Hayward.

Below is a release from the festival organizers and, after that, a schedule of events for Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, including a 94th birthday performance from the legendary Pinetop Perkins:

This year’s edition of the Hayward-Russell City Blues Festival has many unique qualities. For the first time in years, the reunion of one of the most popular blues bands in the history of Blues music will grace the stage. The Muddy Waters Band who backed up Muddy Waters to make blues what it is today. The Chicago Blues Sound is still the most popular sound in the world of blues. Just like so many great blues legends, many have passed through the Muddy Waters Band. Let me share with you which musicians I’m talking about. These artists have had an impact on his sound or how the lyric of the songs were written. Most blues fans know that Pinetop Perkins, Willie Big Eyes Smith, Tail Dragger and John Primer were much more than sidemen. These were the musicians who helped Muddy Waters be so successful. These blues greats will assemble one more time for the Hayward-Russell City Blues Festival. This year’s festival theme is “From Chicago to Russell City,” which is most fitting because 80 percent of the artists are from Chicago. Every year at the Hayward-Russell City Blues Festival we present the style of music that was performed in the clubs of Russell City. The Chicago Sound is very close to what you would hear on any given night at the blues clubs in Russell City.

The queen of blues in their own right, Big Time Sarah and Nellie Tiger Travis, will appear for the first time in the Tri-Valley area. Both of these Chicago ladies will show you how the Lady Sings the Blues in that raw and hard-hitting Chicago style.

The reunion of Billy Branch and Sons of the Blues has brought these musicians together for the first time in 20 years. Their first performance was at this year’s Chicago Blues Festival and was the closing act for one of the biggest blues festivals in the country. Over 800,000 people attended this festival. Billy Branch started the Blues in the Schools (BITS) Program in the early 1970s. Blues in the Schools is a very popular all over the world. Billy worked closely with the late, great Willie Dixon, who critics say was the greatest blues song writer of all time. Chess Records was the Chicago Blues Label that defined post-war blues around the world. During the early 1970s Billy Branch was playing harp for Willie Dixon and that was when Billy Branch got the idea to start the Sons of the Blues. Lurrie Bell and Carl Weathersby are the other core members of the Sons of the Blues. Willie Dixon took Billy Branch as his adopted son and they were truly his sons. The Sons of the Blues are keeping the pure Chicago sound and the blues sound in general alive in the United States.

Pinetop Perkins will celebrate his 94th birthday. Wilbur Harden of Coca Cola will present Pinetop with a grandfather clock. Hat company will present Pinetop with a new line of hats called the Pinetop Perkins Line.

Kick-Off Party

To kick off the Hayward-Russell City Blues Festival “From Chicago To Russell City,” a jam will be held on Friday, July 6, 2007. The party will be held just two blocks from the festival site at The Bistro on B & Main streets in Hayward, CA. This FREE-to-the-public event will be one of the most historic blues events ever. Some of the festival stars will be present at The Bistro for a rare night of historic blues. The Bistro was named Blues Club of the Year 2007 by the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame & Awards Show. Its owner, Vic, is an annual supporter of the Hayward-Russell City Blues Festival.


11:00 – 11:45 Endurance

11:45 – 12:00 BREAK

12:00 – 12:45 Craig Horton

12:45 – 1:00 BREAK

1:00 – 1:45 Tail Dragger

1:45 – 2:00 BREAK

2:00 – 2:45 Big Time Sarah

2:45 – 3:00 BREAK

3:00 – 3:45 John Primer

3:45 – 4:00 BREAK

4:00 – 4:45 Pinetop Perkins
Willie “Big Eyes” Smith

4:45 – 5:00 BREAK

5:00 – 7:00 Billy Branch & Sons of Blues
Carl Weathersby
Lurrie Bell

SUNDAY – July 8, 2007

11:00 – 12:00 Stars of Glory

12:00 – 12:15 BREAK

12:15 – 1:15 Howlin Wolf Tribute featuring Lil Wolf

1:15 – 1:30 BREAK

1:30 – 3:00 Russell City Memorial Blues Band
Eldridge “Big Cat” Tolefree
Bobby Webb
Fillmore Slim

3:00 – 3:15 BREAK

3:15 – 4:45 Caravan of Allstars
Terrible Tom Bowden
Teddy “Blues Master” Watson

4:45 – 5:00 BREAK

5:00 – 7:00 Eddie Shaw
Vaan Shaw
Nellie Tiger Travis
Willie “Big Eyes” Smith
JC Smith Band