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A Night of Blues to support 2014 May Ride

Blues harmonica virtuoso Billy Watson and blues guitarist Robin Henkel will once again headline A Night of Blues.
Blues harmonica virtuoso Billy Watson and blues guitarist Robin Henkel will once again headline A Night of Blues.

For the second year in a row, “A Night of Blues” will help to raise funds to support the annual May Ride, a fundraising event for Operation Home Front San Diego. The evening will feature local artists Trisha St. George and The Robin Henkel Band as the music takes center stage at the Pathways Community Church Annex. A Night of Blues, which takes place on Saturday, February 8, at 9608 Carlton Hills Blvd. in Santee, is presented by Santee Coffee Corner and hosted by local radio personality Clint August.

Local bluesmen Billy Watson and Robin Henkel will take the stage for A Night of Blues

The May Ride was started in 2002 by August as a way of giving back to the members of the military through Operation Home Front, which provides assistance to service members and their families. From a small beginning of just over $1500, the May Ride has grown to providing over $15,000 to support the troops in 2012 and just over $14,000 last year. An avid motorcycle rider in addition to his on-air duties at 101KGB, August has organized numerous rides to help local charities.

“May Ride provides money and assistance to our troops and their families while they do the most important job on the planet,” said August. “It allows them to focus on the task at hand, which is getting home safely to their families.”

The first Night of Blues in January 2013 drew nearly 100 supporters, including legendary radio host Shotgun Tom Kelly. St. George opened the night, and Robin Henkel and fellow bluesman Billy Watson then carried the audience through a stellar evening of music. The event is the brainchild of another member of the San Diego radio family, Christopher Carmicheal – himself a veteran. This year Henkel and Watson will be joined by Whitney Shay as The Robin Henkel Band. It promises to be another night of great blues.

“This event (A Night of Blues) helps raise money for some of the smaller costs of May Ride, so when we do May Ride every bit of that money that’s raised can go toward the troops,” August explained. “There is some cost to the May Ride, so this allows us to put that money toward the troops instead of the costs.”

Opener St. George has a long and varied background that not only includes her musical career but time in the U.S. Coast Guard and a stint as a magician’s assistant. Her music tends toward Classic Americana, and her 2013 appearance included standards by Johnny Mercer and hoagie Carmichael, Duke Ellington and Frank Sinatra.

Guitarist Henkel is a long-established blues player who has appeared with such legends as John Hammond, Jimmy Witherspoon and Papa John Creach. In 2000 his album “Highway” won Best Blues CD at the San Diego Music Awards. Harmonica virtuoso Watson heads his own group, the International Silver String Submarine Band, described as “an improvisational, all-star cast of musicians.” He is also a regular sideman with Henkel and other blues artists. Shay, a San Diego native and graduate of San Diego State University, has become known as the “little girl with a big voice.” Her debut album “Soul Tonic” features guest performances from jazz flautist Holly Hoffman, Mitch Manker of the Ray Charles Orchestra, and blues guitarist Nathan James.

The doors open at 5:30 p.m. and Tricia St. George takes the stage at 6:00 p.m. This is a family event, and admission is a suggested $10 donation per person, although August admits that they will gladly accept more to help the troops.

“It’s right here in Santee and it doesn’t matter about the weather,” said August. “It’s a gritty, back-alley kind of blues, and I love it.”