This year's lineup for the 18th Annual Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk Blues & Music Festivalis so spectacular, we hardly know who to highlight first. From Chicago to Texas, from trad blues to non-, performances in all flavors of legendary blues will be on display.
We're talking about folks like the irrepressible James Cotton (a protégé of Sonny Boy Williamson), who will show off his stomping blues sweetened by physics-defying harp-playing. There's Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy, who boasts four Grammy Awards and continues to delight audiences with his awe-inspiring guitar chops.
Guitarist Kim Simmonds and his brother played a pivotal role in bringing blues across the Atlantic when they opened Kilroy's in London in 1966. Simmonds and his Savoy Brown Band regularly perfected their distinctive interpretation of blues with the hippest of the British rockers -- Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, the Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin included. We cannot say enough beautiful things about Jack Cassidy and Jorma Kaukonen, who might have flown Jefferson Airplane to immortalization with "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love" but continued their 45-year friendship in Hot Tuna. They fine-tuned their musical explorations on more than 17 albums.
This year's lineup also includes the must-see performances of female legends Ann Rabson, Toni Lynn Washington, E.C. Scott, Sharrie Williams, and Marcia Ball. The Junkyard Saints and Jimmy Thackery and Tab Benoit in Whiskey Store bring us Southern-rooted, Cajun-flavored shows. We'll also be spoiled by gravel-voiced Col. Bruce Hampton and the Codetalkers, the deliciously dark Chris Whitley, the inimitable Jaco Pastorius Big Band, and many more. -- Vanessa Hodgkinson