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  • Writer's pictureBil

California Dreamin'

I love California! There is such a huge variety of everything: events, geography, people, art and music. My sis Jeane & hubby Dave have lived in the South Bay town of Fremont for many years, and picked us up at the San Jose airport. Weather is perfect with warm sunny days and cool evenings and the hot tub is always on. Good time catching up with them & daughter Vera, walking and biking the neighboring streets and the Alameda Creek Trail. There is a guy (aka Goats'R'Us) who brings animals to graze along the creek to reduce mowing. When we rode by there were several hundred sheep fenced in to a small area

until they are all the grass & weeds.

Saturday found us at the Hayward/Russel City Blues Festival which is an ongoing annual event featuring a variety of local & national blues talent. We arrived in time to see Alvon Johnson, Johnny Rawls & Li'l Jimmy Reed.

Johnson had a great voice, good band & was a great guitar player. They never missed a lick going through several original & cover tunes with some funny stories. Good driving electric rhythm & blues. Johnny Rawls voice sounded like Robert Cray to me, with a little Lou Rawls mixed in. His band was a bit uneven - seeming to get lost a few times but good and solid when they knew the tune.

Born Leon Atkins in Baton Rouge, aged six ‘L’il Jimmy’ taught himself to play on a cigar box guitar, and aged eighteen his lucky break came when he replaced a well-known local star on stage who was too drunk to play. That man was Jimmy Reed. In his 80s now Jimmy still sings & plays the blues with his guitar and harmonica. Tall & thin he commanded the stage and took a leisurely stroll through the crowd while keeping the groove going. Snappy shoes & jacket too! Unfortunately he had the same band as Rawls, so it appears to be some local players backing up the out-of-town stars. I guess they missed the rehearsal as several songs never found the chords and were cut short! But overall the sound and the vibe was good and the blues lives on in this little corner of California.

Our good friend Diane got us an invitation to a weekly clothing-optional pool party in Marin County, hosted by a guitar player & wife she has known many years. Very cool house way up on a hill, with a very nice pool and deck overlooking San Rafael. Pool was very warm and the day was perfect, connecting with old and new friends.

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