Perfect 75-degree weather on a sun-filled day set the tone of the annual East Palo Alto Blues Festival on Au. 3 and Aug. 4. Produced by Patrick Brock, the event featured headliners, Johnny Rawls and Lenny Williams.
Other performances during the two-day festival included Dee Dee Simon, Oakland Blues Divas, Willie G. Ira Walker, Tebo, Will Roc Project, Terrible Tom, Karl Bracy, Guitar Mac Macknatty, J.C. Smith Band, DJ Rome, Ladee Chico, Ray Starr, Mike B., and Sunny Blue Bland.
The crowd danced and sang along to Bay Area vocalist Lenny Williams who sang his classic love song “Cause I Love You.” Dee Dee Simon, decked in a shimmering brown sequined mini dress, performed the super charged song “Shotgun.” While singing Gladys Knight’s “You’re The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me,” Simon created a gospel song unto Jesus.
The West Coast Blues Caravan of All-Stars showcased many of the unsung heroes of West Coast Blues.
Authentic blues was performed by Ronnie Stewart lead guitar; Robert “Hollywood” Jenkins, rhythm guitar; Art Hafen T-Bone, guitar; Fillmore Slim, guitar; Jock Shock, guitar; Dalhart Johnson, bass guitar; Skip Hudson, bass guitar; David “Stix” Boyette, drums; Danielle Wamsley on drums; Tovia, drums; Jimmy Jr., drums; Carl Green, Phillip Reynolds, and the “Sweet Meat Horn Section.”
Featured vocalists included Terrible Tom Bowden, Willie G, Tommy Nunnelly and Karl Bracy.
Vendors offered technology innovation, children’s activities, artwork and jewelry. The crowd of more than 500 enjoyed the gathering that had a family reunion feel. On Sunday, the festival began with a church service in the park featuring the gospel sounds of The Chosen Wonders.”
This Youth Generation non-profit founder Deon C. Price attended with friends. “This event is key to keeping our culture alive in the community,” said Price. “I come all the way from Fairfield to participate and support family and friends in this region.”
Elaine Feemster of Vallejo met friends at the event. “I love to see our community come together in the Bay Area,” said Feemster. ”The music is great and there’s just a great energy at this festival.”
Many community members have witnessed the dedication and consistency of event producer Patrick Brock of Patrick Brock and Company as a supporter of small businesses and keeping music alive in the Bay Area through the blues festival in East Palo Alto and the Hayward Russell City Blues Festival.
“I have been a resident of East Palo Alto for several years and have helped entrepreneurs thrive in our city,” said Brock. “Through the blues festival there is room for us to work together, do business together and make things happen,” said Brock. “Music is a large part of our rich cultural heritage. It brings communities together and keeps our history alive.”
For East Palo Alto City Councilmember Larry Moody, events and spaces for local residents to gather and celebrate are essential to a healthy community.
“I commend Patrick Brock and his team,” said Moody. “The festival gives us the opportunity to continue the narrative about the community and our history.
“It gives us a pathway to stay engaged and gather as a community and a license to have a little fun. …Any incoming residents will appreciate being a part of a culturally diverse community and add to our demand for necessary services such as a competitive public educational system and a community where our seniors and elders have a sense of connectivity, because we are here on their shoulders.”