If you love the Blues and all the good food that goes with it, the Isleton Cajun and Blues Festival was the place to be on June 14-15, 2014. The annual festival takes place on the Delta Loop in Isleton, CA and draws visitors from near and far to enjoy an incredible lineup of talent. This year those greats included Marcia Ball, Terry Hanck, JD McPherson, Yvette Landry and Roddie Romero, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, Red's Blues and so many more.
On Sunday, the Ray "Catfish" Copeland Band woke up the crowd with some foot tapping, body snappin', face grinnin' music The Sacramento Music Festival has been bringing Ray to their stage for 20 years and he and his band are well known in California for their mix of "Blues, old time Rock 'n' Roll, Country and a little Gospel and Cajun for flavoring." They are energetic, upbeat and entertaining and were a superb way to start the day as dancers kicked up their feet while others snapped some crayfish and watched.
Red's Blues, with special guest Blues guitarist Steve Freund, brought on some "Chicago shuffles and swampy Texas-Louisiana strolls" while festival goers browsed the vendors, sampled some hard cider, lip-smacked some Gumbo or did some more dancing and head nodding to the tunes. Beth Reid-Grigsby, in her turquoise dress with red hair flying in the breeze, led her all-star band on the Budweiser stage with R.W. Grigsby on bass, Robert Sidwell on guitar and Larry Carr on drums. Powered by passion for the Blues in their unique style, the band pleased the crowd with no room for doubt. Red's Blues will be celebrating their new CD release at the Torch Club in Sacramento on June 25 with Sacramento's much loved harmonic kid Kyle Rowland who has grown up playing on festival stages.
The local greats were followed by rising star Yvette Landry and Roddie Romero making their California debut. Oh my, thank you to the Isleton Chamber of Commerce for bringing this pair to the Delta!. Yvette's mix of Country style Blues was a superb listening experience and listening to Roddie play was a treat that could easily become an addictive indulgence. Romero is a 'Grammy nominated Louisiana songwriter who has been performing Louisiana roots music worldwide for over 20 years" and Landry tours worldwide as a multi-instrumentalist in several bands and has, she stated, been writing her own songs for about four years. Yvette Landry's voice carries a bowl full of Soul, Country, Blues and Cajun twang and her sexy legs don't hurt the eyes a bit either. Bring Yvette and Roddie back next year please!
The afternoon grew warm but the festival had various shade opportunities, particularly on the two dance floors. Water, shaved ice and smoothies as well as cold beer and soft drinks were available to quench the thirst that attendees worked up walking between the two stages, dancing, and enjoying the entire scene. But, if the music hadn't gotten them into a full heat, Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic soon got the blood pumpin' and the heart thumpin'.
The Isleton Cajun and Blues Festival states, "A young lion of Zydeco, and already in the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame, accordionist/singer/bandleader, Grammy-nominated Andre Thierry and his band Zydeco Magic return to the Cajun & Blues Festival this year as crowd favorites." The smiles in the crowd proved this statement true as the tempo and skill of the musicians brought magic to life.
Sometime in this mix of great music complimented by good food and friends, local festival supporters and heroes River Delta Fire District got a call and off went their truck and crew leaving behind the festival fire of spice and joy of life. Before long they returned to the scene and chatted with those interested about their truck, gear, and challenging job. Next to their corner was a full kid's zone with climbing rock and other activities keeping the young entertained while the music continued and the food lines grew and dwindled.
Terry Hanck soon came to the stage and delivered his saxophone and vocal grooves with reliable excellence. Another Sacramento Music Festival veteran as well as California State Fair performer, he is recognized by Blues fans wherever he goes as is Johnny Cat Soubrand on guitar, Butch Cousins on drums, and Tim Wagar on bass. The Terry Hanck Band and Friends knows the Blues inside and out and delivers them with gusto, sexy rhythms and the ideal mix of season and spice to make their performance a complete delight.
And there was more to the Sunday lineup. There was also more food being dished out on plates including barbeque, french fries, yummy deep fried artichoke hearts topped with real crab and shrimp, fried catfish and all the fixings. If people weren't in line getting more food or drink, they were headed over to the stage to enjoy JD McPherson and friends (Jimmy Sutton bassist, Jason Smay drummer and others) bringing on the fun with a sweet set of music. Festival organizers aptly describe McPherson's music as "renaissance man/hepcat meshes the old and the new, the primal and the sophisticated, music that will satisfy traditional American rock ’n’ roll and R&B purists while also exhibiting McPherson’s rarefied gift for mixing and matching disparate stylistic shapes and textures." And, once again, the Isleton Cajun and Blues Festival rang true with these performers knocking it out of the Delta right into the crown cap of got-it-going-on!
The day ended with one of the most delightful headliners schooling the audience as to why she is a Blues Music Award winner and Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter/piano player and band leader." Marcia Ball's personality drives the set with charm, as she brings what The Austin Chronicle describes as "scrumptious, Southern-fried boogies, blues, and gorgeous ballads with the infectious street beat of New Orleans at the core.” As the day cooled and the Delta breeze whipped, the crowd seemed reluctant for the festival to end. Dancing continued through the last set, cheers were voiced and families filled with the kind of vibes that makes a festival worth returning to year after year.
And this only describes the second day of the Isleton Cajun and Blues Festival. The music started on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. with shuttles hauling in vistors from a free parking lot about a mile away. The festival grounds were an interesting but effective choice, located at the Delta Boat Storage at 950 Brannan Island Road in Isleton, CA. Overall, the festival is well worth a travel to attend due to the caliber of musicians, the variety within the Cajun and Blues focus, the friendly atmosphere, the large shaded dance floors which were well utilized, and the food and merchant vendors. If this is your cup of tea, or rather your jug of good time Cajun and Blues fun, putting next year's event on your calendar is highly recommended.