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July 3, 2012 > Hayward Russell City Blues Festival

Hayward Russell City Blues Festival

By Mauricio Segura

The blues... for some, it can mean the feeling of depression, dark moods, and loneliness. For others, it is a soundtrack of the spiritual soul of the Deep South. Since the turn of the 20th Century, musicians like Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, and Ray Charles have brought this unique musical style to the masses. So influential has it been, that it crossed genres to artists like Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, and Bruno Mars who all incorporated it into their own styles, giving it continuity to generation after generation.

From 1853 to 1964, a small unincorporated community known as Russell City existed in Hayward. Its residents consisted mostly of African Americans relocated from the south. Through them, the area's blues heritage quickly gained notoriety, and although Russell City is no longer on the map, its legacy lives on in an annual Blues Festival.

On July 7 and 8, the 13th annual Hayward Russell City Blues Festival will be held on the grounds of Hayward City Hall. Over thirty acts will fill two stages with their sweet soulful blues sounds, while 3,500 expected attendees will enjoy amazing food and plenty of crafts and souvenirs for purchase.

Among those gracing the stages during the festival will be Cletus, fresh from a highly heralded performance at the Monterey Blues Festival. This R&B singer-songwriter will bring his diverse musical style in a live performance sure to keep all captivated. Having collaborated on projects with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, Celine Dion, Wynton Marsalis, Jeffrey Holder, Chris Botti, Chicago, the New York Philharmonic, and the New York Pops, Cletus will be promoting his new material, including the single, "Leftside Right." To learn more about Cletus, visit

Apart from the festival, several pre-festival events are scheduled for the week prior. On Monday a lecture will be held at the Hayward Main Library, followed by a second lecture Tuesday, July 3 at the Russell City Grill & Sports Bar. Patrons will be treated to a live performance at Buffalo Bills on Thursday, July 5, with a final Friday evening kickoff at The Bistro.

Presented by the Bay Area Blues Society and the City of Hayward, this year's festival promises to be memorable. Music, food and good times are on tap for everyone, so head over to Hayward this weekend, and get the blues!

Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door per day, or $35 for a two-day pass in advance. Students and seniors (62+) pay $15 in advance or $20 at the door per day with ID. Purchase tickets at or at The Bistro on B & Main Streets, and The Cobbler on Foothill.

Hayward Russell City Blues Festival
Saturday and Sunday, July 7 and 8
11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Hayward City Hall Plaza
777 B Street, Hayward
(510) 836-2227
Tickets: $15 - $35

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