Wednesday, May 15, 2019

2019 Doheny Blues Festival preview

Brandon "Taz" Niederauer performing with the Otis Taylor Band
at Doheny Blues Festival in 2015. Now 16, the young artist
is one of the most exciting talents on the international stage.
Photo: Bob Steshetz
If you are in Southern California, make plans to attend the Doheny Blues Festival in Dana Point this weekend (Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and 19). The diverse line-up of bona fide legends (Taj Mahal, Robert Cray Band, John Mayall Band), pioneering modern-day heroes (Jonny Lang, Vintage Trouble, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, North Mississippi Allstars, Sue Foley) and emerging greats (Southern Avenue,  Brandon "Taz" Niederauer) promise to make the two day event a great one.

Ben Harper performing at Doheny Blues Fest in May 2013.
The famed artist returns to the event with the Innocent Criminals
this year. Photo: Bob Steshetz
This year's event is bringing back several festival favorites including Ben Harper, who last performed in Dana Point on the 2013 bill with blues harmonica great Charlie Musselwhite. 

This year Harper (a native of Pomona, CA) will be appearing with the Innocent Criminals. Harper is a three-time Grammy winner and has blended blues, rock, folk, reggae, soul and other styles into a unique and fiery musical brand that is his alone. He will come to Dana Point armed with his top-tier talents as both lead singer and guitar virtuoso. You can read my review of Harper's memorable 2013 performance here. Harper will perform on the Dana Point Stage at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Brandon "Taz" Niederauer performing at NAMM Show in
Anaheim, CA in January 2019. Photo: Bob Steshetz
Regular readers of my writings will know how blown away I was when I caught then 12-year-old Brandon "Taz" Niederauer perform with the Otis Taylor Band back in 2015, and his burgeoning talent as a now 16-year-old who headlined at the D'Angelico Guitars booth at the NAMM Show in Anaheim in January 2019. Make no mistake; Niederauer is simply amazing. His guitar playing is off the charts, and his considerable talents as a band leader, singer and songwriter astound. Among the awesome songs he performed in Anaheim were the souful "My Revival" and "Dare," as well as the funk-tinged blues rocker "Paralyzed." Don't miss this year's "Artist-At-Large" when he comes to town; Niederauer will perform with several artists across the weekend, and will headline his own set on the Music Preserves Stage at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Among the other great artists set to perform on Saturday are the Robert Cray Band, Taj Mahal Quartet, Sue Foley and North Mississippi Allstars

Jonny Lang performing at the NAMM Show on January  23, 2013.
Photo: Bob Steshetz
Sunday also promises to provide a full day of great music in Dana Point. Another much-anticipated artist coming to Doheny Blues Fest this weekend is singer-guitarist Jonny Lang. Armed with his distinctive baritone vocals and passionate guitar work, Lang always puts on a terrific show. I've seen him a numbers of times over the past 20+ years and this always-solid performer will headline the fest on Sunday night.

Vintage Trouble singer Ty Taylor is an
absolute force of nature in concert.
Photo: Bob Steshetz
Performing immediately before Lang and closing out the action on the Backporch Stage is one of my all-time favorite live acts. Vintage Trouble comes to the festival on the heels of a terrific new release, Chapter II - EP II, (read my review of the 10-track release here). When the Los Angeles-based quartet performed at the Doheny Blues Fest in 2014 they tore the roof off the place (no easy feat since the festival is held outdoors!). I've seen Vintage Trouble impress at Coachella, Doheny Blues, the House of Blues and even during a flight from Los Angeles to Denver (no kidding! Watch my documentary about the 2013 high-flying event here)
John Mayall performing at the
Coach House in San Juan
Capistrano in January 2018.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

Often referred to as the "Godfather of British Blues," it is a real treat that John Mayall will be appearing at the festival on Sunday afternoon, appearing on the Dana Point Stage. Mayall, now 85, has had a long tradition of introducing the world to a string of guitar greats (Eric Clapton, Walter Trout, Peter Green, Mick Taylor, Coco Montoya and more), but Carolyn Wonderland is the first female to ever be featured as lead guitarist in any of Mayall's groups. Mayall is a true treasure and his set is one that shouldn't be missed by any concertgoers this weekend...

Other must-see artists set to perform on Sunday include the aforementioned Southern Avenue, the Marcus King BandRoy Gaines and European outfit B.B. & the Blues Shacks.

Check out for more details. The event's official poster and schedule is below...

Robert Kinsler

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