Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sista Monica Parker Headlines 24th DC Blues Festival

Sista Monica at 1997 DC Blues Festival.
Photo © Ron Weinstock
The 24th DC Blues Festival takes place, September 1, 2012. It is at the Carter Barron Amphitheater in NW Washington, DC, starting at noon and running until 7:30PM.

Headlining the festival is the marvelous Sista Monica Parker, who is returning to the Festival after 15 years. Her appearance in 1997 was her first appearance on the East Coast and was one of the finest performances by anyone in the Festival’s history. She does not appear on the East Coast very often so we are fortunate to have the Lioness of the Blues, as the guitarist Vasti Jackson was first to describe her, returning with her outstanding band. I myself have written, “Sista Monica is as compelling a vocalist as anyone in the blues.” She is one of the few living singers one can compare to the greats like Big Maybelle and Etta James. She is that powerful a singer. She has a new release on her Mo’ Muscle label, Living In the Danger Zone.

Also appearing on the festival line-up (and they are closing out the Carter Barron show) is Sugar Ray & The Blue Tones. I first met Ray Norcia when his band then included Ronnie Earl (Horvath) and backed up J.B. Hutto in New York City (the year was 1978). He is still going strong and plays Chicago blues styled blues with an urban touch with a terrific band that includes Monster Mike Welch on guitar and Anthony Geraci on piano. As a vocalist his smooth delivery evokes Junior Parker and he is a strong, but not flashy harp player. Sugar Ray fronted Roomful of Blues for a period as well as led the Blue Notes for over thirty five years. His most recent CD is the Severn issued Evenin’ which I reviewed when it was released last year.The Lionel Young Band is also on the line-up. I have not seen them, but they were winners of the 2011 International Blues Challenge. Young hails from Colorado and plays fiddle in addition to guitar.

Dr. Ayaba Bey will be singing with the
Dc Blues Society band. Photo © Ron Weinstock
Clarence ‘The Blues Man’ Turner, who was the winner of the 2011 DC Blues Society Battle of the band as well as the DC Blues Society Band featuring Ayaba Bey rounds out the line-up. I might add that the DC Blues Society Band sounds better every time I see them with a fresh repertoire of songs and D. Bey is a wonderful singer who should not be overlooked. They are a reason to get to the Festival when it starts.

The festival will also have its usual workshops as well on the John Cephas Workshop Stage located at the main gates in front of what would ordinarily be the ticket booth for the Carter Barron. Nadine Rae will once again lead a vocal workshop, while Mike Westcott will head the guitar workshop. 'Choo Choo' Charlie Williams will conduct the Children's harmonica workshop and the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation Ensemble once again is featured on the workshop stage.  

The Festival is free and no tickets are required for the Festival. The Festival schedule is up on the Blues Society's website,

Afterwards the DC Blues Society holds the Festival After-Party (and fund-raiser) featuring the Lionel Young Band at the American Legion Post 41, 905 Sligo Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland. The Legion's entrance is actually on Fenton Street by the Parking lot. The After-Party starts at 8:30PM and is a ticketed event. Advance tickets are available online at a discount over the door price at the Society’s website, or one can call 301-322-4808.

Members of the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation including Eleanor Ellis, Rick Franklin and
Dave Jackson performing at the Workshop Stage during the 2011 DC Blues Festival.
Photo © Ron Weinstock
BTW, the Lionel Young Band will also be appearing along with The Holmes Brothers and Mikey Jr., at the Baltimore Blues Society's annual Alonzo's Memorial Picnic on Sunday, September 2 at the Rosedale Maryland American Legion Hall. Check out for more information.

Be part of the Carter Barron crowd for the DC Blues Festival!
Photo from 2011 Festival © Ron Weinstock

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