News Column

400 turn out for Brownsville Blues Festival

September 1, 2014

By David Bitton, Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.

Sept. 01--Fresh off their Jamaican honeymoon, Tricia and Tommy Thompson weren't about to miss out on dancing to live blues music being performed in the Yuba County foothills.

After all, Tommy has attended every Brownsville Blues Festival his father, Clay Thompson, has put on during the past two decades.

"I like the relaxed atmosphere," Tommy Thompson said.

About 400 people turned out, found a spot to sprawl out on the grass under a canopy of towering trees, and listened to seven blues bands perform.

"I'm proud of every one of these bands," Clay Thompson said.

As a musician for more than 20 years, he has made lifelong friendships with many in the blues world and has relied on that to bring talented bands to the foothills.

Mario Valens, frontman of The Backyard Blues Band, got many in the crowd up on their feet and dancing while he wailed away on the harmonica.

Valens is the younger brother of Ritchie Valens, who was killed in a plane crash in 1959 after a brief but successful musical career best known for his recording of the Mexican folk song "La Bamba."

Another musician was Steve Long, 62, who has been playing trumpet for 45 years.

Long, who was assisting a few of the acts, said he loved the location and more importantly, the people who attend blues festivals.

"I could do this every day of my life," Long said.

Chuck Messick and wife Christine Messick of Hallwood said they enjoyed dancing, cold beer, the music and feeling like they were in a forest.

"It is a relaxing environment, and you can be who you want to be," Christine said.

Brownsville roommates Dareld Gross and Nancy Gates were all smiles while celebrating Gross's birthday.

"It is a hometown, showdown, groovy kind of thing," Gross said.


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Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)

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