The H-Town Blues Festival

Whether you like your blues wrapped in velvet or in something more X-rated, there's something for everyone at the H-Town Blues Festival. Many of the gifted artists may not be household names outside the blues community, but they should be. Perhaps best known is Bobby "Blue" Bland, whose numerous sides for Don Robey's Houston-based Duke/Peacock Records label back in the '60s set the standard for blues crooners. A consummate singer, Bland is credited with taking the blues from the barroom to the bedroom on albums like the classic Two Steps From the Blues. Also appearing is Shirley Brown, who, after being discovered by Albert King, was a driving force in the evolution of blues into what we refer to as soul music. Brown's 1974 Grammy-nominated Woman to Woman was the last major hit for the venerable Stax label.

On the raunchier side are the bluest of blues performers like Marvin Sease, whose ten-minute track "Candy Licker" has made him a crowd-pleaser. Sease is also the mentor to the youngest act on the bill, soul singer Sir Charles Jones, who received the B.B. King Achievement Award in 2003 and 2004 and who has a penchant for referring to himself in the third person. ("Everybody loves Sir Charles Jones's music.") Other artists set to perform include Bobby Rush and Theodis Easley, whose "Stand Up in It" ranks right alongside Chick Willis's "Stoop Down Baby" as some of the bluest double-entendre material on record. Between Sease, Easley, San Antonio-born soul man Mel Waiters and the deep-voiced crooner Latimore, who are also on the bill, this show may well see the most panties thrown on stage since Tom Jones hit Vegas.

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William Michael Smith