Friday, May 03, 2013

Tinner Hill Brings A Festive Saturday On June 8

Sista Monica will be one of the headliners at this year's Tinner Hill Blues Festival

Robert Hughes an excellent guitarist (with Teeny Tucker), song-writer and photographer, posted in Facebook about the demise of the Monterey Blues Festival. Among his observations was one about how hard is was getting to find blues festivals that actually focused on blues performers as opposed to festivals that featured bluesy pop acts and blues rockers. With this is mind, the Tinner Hill Blues Festival certainly falls within those Blues Festivals devoted to presenting blues and not pop and rock music rebadged as blues and arguably is the best straight Blues Festival in the Washington DC area for the 2013 Festival season.

It is five weeks until the Tinner Hill Festival takes place at Cherry Hill Park in the City of Falls Church. Presented in the City by the Tinner Hill Foundation, the Festival includes some free as well as ticked events. I previously posted about the concert at The State Theatre with John Hammond, and Phil Wiggins & the Chesapeake Sheiks on Friday June 7 and here is the link. On Saturday, June 8, the Festival takes place at Cherry Hill Park in Falls Church with a lineup headlined by Sista Monica and Bill Morganfield (in the video clip below performing a somng associated with Muddy Waters, She's 19 Years Old

Saturday, the music moves to Cherry Hill park where it will start at noon. First up will be Sheryl Warner and the Southside Housewreckers from Richmond, Virginia. This acoustic trio does their own take on early down home blues from the Piedmont, Delta and Chicago. It has been sometime since they last performed in the Washington area, but they have brought their wonderful acoustic  blues to the Herndon Blues Festival and the DC Blues Festival in the past. Here is a clip of them in performance.

Following them will be The Acoustic Blues Women featuring Eleanor Ellis, Pearl Bailes, Gina DeSimone & Pat Quinn.  This eclectic group of Blues Women playing songs influenced by Memphis Minnie, John Jackson and Chuck Berry. Eleanor Ellis, if she had sought it, would be regarded as among the greatest living female acoustic blues women and Pearl Bailes often plays with her on harmonica. I am not as familiar with Gina DeSimone or Pat Quinn, but Gina does regularly conduct workshops for the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation, so her performance should be a real delight.

Roy Bookbinder follows them. A student of the legendary Reverend Gary Davis,and a friend of the late John Jackson, Roy is one of the finest fingerstyle guitars alive with a wide repertoire that he provides his own style too. Match his guitar playing with his natural vocals and his story telling, and you have one of the most entertaining acoustic blues performers around. Above is a video of Roy performing Blind Blake's Police Dog Blues, a Blind Blake tune that Roy's friend, the late John Jackson performed.

After this trio of acoustic acts, Beverly “Guitar’ Watkins will hit the stage. Currently one of the performers associated with the Music Makers Foundation, Beverly was a member of the band of Piano Red/ Dr. Feelgood. One of the rare female blues guitarists, her association with the Music Maker Foundation in 1995 led to the release of an acclaimed recording Back in Business, and she certainly is as she will belt out her vocals as she plays with her guitar behind her back. Below she performs Back in Business.

Daryl Davis and his Band will follow with a set of blues, boogie woogie and rock and roll. Daryl is one of the DC area’s premier pianists who was mentored by the late legends, Johnnie Johnson and Pinetop Perkins. Daryl replaced Pinetop as the pianist in the Legendary Blues Band for a spell, and is Chuck Berry’s pianist on many East Coast performances by that legendary figure. 

Mary Ann Redmond is among the area’s finest blues and roots singers who has won numerous local awards. A versatile singer, she sings with feeling and nuance. Currently she is working on a jazz vocal recording that was funded through Kickstarter. When she is at the Tinner Hill Blues Festival, we can expect her to focus on the blues that is the core of her performances. Here she performs Georgia.

Guitarist Vasti Jackson gave Sista Monica Parker the label of “Lioness of the Blues,” which fairly describes the power and impact of her vocals and performances. Sista Monica Parker, returns to the Washington area after being one of the high points of the 2012 DC Blues Festival. In a review of her last recording, Living in the Danger Zone I wrote, “She is able to caress a lyric with a whisper before belting out her shouts without it ever sounding mannered or forced. Sista Monica will suggest to some the late Etta James, who along with Koko Taylor, Katie Webster and Ruth Brown, among the Sista’s major inspirations. However, she is her her woman and imitates no one. With a tight band that includes her long-time collaborator Danny B. (Daniel Beconcini), plenty of strong original material and select covers, she commands attention with the soul, warmth and passion she exhibits.”
Big Bill Morganfield seen at the 2005 National Capital Barbecue Battle
Photo © Ron Weinstock
Closing out the Festival on Saturday will be Big Bill Morganfield, a son of the legendary Muddy Waters, who performs in the tradition of his dad, Muddy Waters. If Big Bill is not a blues performer of his father's stature (and there are few today who are of his stature), it does not diminish the fact that he has become a superb purveyor of classic Chicago-styled blues, whether reviving some of his father’s classic blues, or presenting his originals in the same style. His classic Chicago blues will end a day of blues that will take us from the down home blues of the Delta and the Piedmont to the Urban Blues of Atlanta, the West Coast and Chicago. 
Here is Sista Monica in performance.

In addition to the performances there will be blues films showing for free at the Falls Church Community Center and a morning panel on the blues with some of the performers participating. For more information on the Festival visit

I am part of the Tinner Hill Blues Festival Committee although I joined after the line-up was finalized. 

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