Well, I not only survived, I thrived at the 8th annual Doheny Blues Festival in Dana Point over the weekend (May 21-22, 2005). I saw many great artists, including a number where it was my first in-person look and listen. And, overall, my impressions were this was almost Coachella on the Coast. And, thankfully, not a Gram Rabbit in the bunch!
The winners came from across the country, and represented young guns and the old guard. If you haven't seen the Blind Boys of Alabama, you should. They are entertaining and deliver gospel-blues with an energy that defies age. I have seen them several other times, and they never disappoint.
About the acts I had not caught before. Roomful of Blues fuse neo-swing, blues and R&B with musical craft; the horn section is rivaled only by the strengths of the lead singer and guitarist.
And there is something wonderful about standing in the shadow of the mighty Pacific and listening to a talented guitarist tear it up on his Fender (or Gibson) in an outdoor setting fitting the power of his delivery. Guitarists Walter Trout, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Mato Nanji (Indigenous) and Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars) did exactly that over the weekend. And acoustic performances by Roy Rogers & Norton Buffalo, as well as David Lindley were equally impressive especially given the cozy presentation afforded by the Backporch Stage.
Make sure you hit it in May 2006 if you are into the blues!