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March 4, 2009 > Time to sing the blues

Time to sing the blues

By Vidya Pradhan

Who is that knockin' on that door? I believe that's that collector man.
Man, go tell him I ain't got a dime today. Tell him I ain't made
a penny all this week. Tell him I'm just as broke as I can be, oh
just knock him down... Tell him I'll have the money sometime

From "Collector Man Blues" by Sonny Boy Williamson

If the lyrics seem poignant and appropriate today, it is because the "blues" genre of music arose from the hardship and toil of African Americans in the late 19th century. A vocal and instrumental form of music that is structured around "blue" notes and "blue" chord progressions, the blues are an integral part of American history, influencing jazz, blue grass and even rock and roll over the years.

What better way to cheer ourselves out of our current economic doldrums than listening to some great local artists perform the blues at the first annual Tri-City Bluesfest in Newark? Organized by the Newark Chamber of Commerce and Soroptimist International, an organization for women in management and professionals, the event is a fundraiser supporting education programs in the Tri-City area.

Colleen Ganaye is coordinating the festival. "It started out of my personal love for the blues," she acknowledges. Her brother, "Big" Bill Ganaye who passed away a few years ago, was a dedicated blues musician. When fellow blues enthusiast Ron Thompson suggested an event to honor Bill and music teachers in the area, it all began to come together. "Music teachers perform an invaluable service," says Colleen, "and in this environment of budget cuts, their jobs are in jeopardy. We wanted to honor what they have been doing in the field of music education."

With the support of Newark Mayor Dave Smith and prominent musicians from the Bay Area, the first ever Tri-City Bluesfest is open to music lovers on Sunday, March 8th at the Saddle Rack in Fremont. Featured are some notable blues names like Snooky Flowers, who played the sax for Janis Joplin, Pamela Rose, Ron Thompson & The Resistors, Lydia Pense & Cold Blood and Tommy Castro. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. and the show starts at 2 p.m.

This Bluesfest is particularly significant because the San Francisco Blues Festival, the nations oldest continuously run event of its kind, has been canceled for 2009. Lovers of the blues should enthusiastically show their support for both the genre and the education oriented mission of the festival. The blues are one of the pillars of American Music and we have a rare opportunity to see it performed live by local masters.

To order tickets please download and send in an order form from ( pdf file) or to order by phone call Colleen or Linda at the Newark Chamber at (510) 744-1000.
Sponsorship spots are still available for this special event at all levels, from $200 to $10,000. Check out the Sponsors page at

Tri-City Blues Fest
Sunday, March 8
2 p.m.
Saddle Rack
42011 Boscell Road, Fremont
(510) 979-0477 (Saddlerack)

Tickets: (510) 744-1000
$25 in advance
$30 at the door if available

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