The first annual Blythe River Blues Festival was held May 26, 2012 at Quechan Marina. The festival featured Paul Winer, Blythe's own South Main Street Blues Band, Bernie Pearl Blues Band, 7th Sons with Bill McFadden, Deacon Jones, and Fran Banish.
Over 400 came out to enjoy this event on the river. Stay tuned for next year's festival.
BLYTHE - Bringing 1960s West Side Chicago Blues to the 2nd Annual Blythe River Blues Festival, Cadillac Zack learned from the very best Chicago had to offer. Having moved to the city from Boston in the early '90s, Cadillac Zack has played with nearly 300 great blues artists and compares his style of blues with that of Magic Sam, Otis Rush, and Hip Link Chain.
"I was taught by the same guy that taught Elvin Bishop, Little Smokey Smothers, who was the original guitar player with Paul Butterfield (Butterfield Blues Band) before being replaced by Michael Bloomfield," Cadillac Zack said. "He taught Elvin in the '60s and me in the '90s."
Cadillac Zack first heard B.B. King on the radio at age 12 and ever since wanted to be a blues guitarist. At 17 he began playing the guitar. He moved to Chicago at 21, after finishing college, and lived there until he was 27, spending his time learning from the blues masters.
"I was a basically tutored by all these legendary blues guys that were still alive from the '50s and '60s," he said. "Johnny B Moore, Eddie Campbell and many, many others."
While Cadillac Zack works mostly as a promoter, having produced over 1,000 shows, he said some of the highlights of his career included playing the Cognac Blues Festival in France and the Roots and Blues Festival in Canada. At every show he plays he brings in a guest artist and this year, at the Blythe River Blues Festival, Zack is bringing in fabled Canned Heat guitarist, Junior Watson.
Due to his efforts to promote and play the blues, Cadillac Zack was nominated by Bruce Bromberg, the legendary blues producer who discovered Robert Cray and Joe Walker, nominated him for the "Keeping the Blues Alive" award.
While Cadillac Zack hasn't recorded an album of his own, he's recorded with Willie Pooche and Luther Allison. He also worked on a record with Elmore James, Jr., the son of Elmore James, on the biggest label in the U.K., JSP Records, that won the Living Blues Critic award for Best Debut Blues Album in 2009. He's also done tons of informal recordings and with hundreds of songs written, he does plan to enter into the studio soon to start churning out his own material.
Cadillac Zack let it be known that his show at the 2nd Annual Blythe River Blues Festival would authentic blues and nothing more.
"I promise not to play any funk, no rock, no soul," he said. "It will be 100 percent pure, hard Chicago Blues. There's not going to be nothing other, no watering it down."
He said he looked forward to playing in Blythe and was a big fan of the desert area, the cactuses and the Wiley Coyote settings.
"Anytime I can get out of Los Angeles and go somewhere where people appreciate music, it's great," he said. "It's different when you drive 100 miles out of L.A. The crowds are different - they're not jaded - they're excited to have a traveling band come to town. I'm very excited about it."
The Blythe River Blues Festival, a fundraiser for the Blythe Area Chamber of Commerce and the Joe Wine Recreation Center, is scheduled for May 25, 2013 (Memorial Day weekend), at Quechan Marina on the Colorado River in Blythe, Calif. Eric Gales will headline the show with Junior Watson, Cadillac Zack, and The Record Company also on the bill. Returning will be last year's headliner, Fran Banish, as well as Blythe's South Main Street Blues Band and Quartzsite's Paul Winer and his boogie-woogie blues.
Gates open at 9 a.m. and music runs all day and night from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Tickets are $15 and available at the Blythe Area Chamber of Commerce, 145 N. Spring Street, (760-922-8166) the Joe Wine Recreation Center, 127 S. Main Street, Desert Music at 246 W. Hobsonway, or online at blytheriverblues.com.
The venue is on the Colorado River so beachwear is appropriate. Only water is allowed in coolers. Beer, sodas and food will be sold at the event. Bring your own chairs, blankets, towels and pop-ups.