Blues Blast 2014 - Hance Park - 3/8/14
Benjamin Leatherman Samantha Fish performs at Blues Blast 2014 on Saturday.
Blues Blast 2014
Margaret T. Hance Park
It might have been a bit warm this past Saturday when the annual Blues Blast went down at Margaret T. Hance Park in Phoenix, but that didn't keep both local musicians and fans of the genre alike from attending the outdoor music festival.
While a few of the musicians and patrons present at the event, which is organized and sponsored by the Phoenix Blues Society, sang the blues about the weather, the air was largely filled with 12-bar melodies and plenty of down-home harmonies.
Most of the hotness at Blues Blast, however, was limited to the scorching sounds coming from the performers, such as local bands like The Mike Eldred Trio, Leon J and Juke Joint, the Paul CruiZe Blues Crew, and Sugaray Rayford and the Rhythm Room All-Stars.
Each of the groups and musicians in the Blues Blast lineup -- which also included Kansas City's Samantha Fish Band and local icon Hans Olson -- served up varying types of blues to satisfy everyone in attendance.
Fish, for instance, played her brand of hardcore wailing guitar blues, while Olson was more in the vein of folksy blues, and Leon J and Juke Joint's blues offerings focus more on storytelling and history.
Meanwhile, Eldred and company performed their amped-up take on the genre and performed tunes from their two most recent CDs, 61/49 and Elvis Unleaded, including their bluesy cover of the King's "Burning Love." The song will reportedly appear on the soundtrack of the upcoming Disney movie Planes: Fire & Rescue.
Stan Bindell The Mike Eldred trio performs at Blues Blast.
According to Eldred, the Disney folks heard the song on Elvis Unleaded decided to use it in the animated film, which will be released on July 18.
"It's a lot of money. It's great," Eldred says. "I had to send them a version without the lead vocals."
That's not the only big news in the works as Eldred told New Times that he will pay a visit to John Mayer's house on March 29 to record a song for the trio's next album, Baptist Town. The disc is reportedly about a community where blues and history were big, but now is falling apart and not getting its due.
In the meantime, Eldred and his fellow musicians focused on performing for the Phoenix blues community during Blues Blast. While the trio usually includes John Bazz on bass and Jerry Angel on drums, due to the fact that the latter musician couldn't make it to the festival, Brian Fahey from the Rhythm Room All-Stars filled in for the band's set. Nick Riviera, the leader of local blues legends Big Nick and the Gila Monsters, who played the harmonica, also joined them onstage for the gig.
Eldred, who moved to Chandler from California about seven years ago, started playing guitar when he was 14, and was thrilled to perform at the event.
"I wanted to play at the Blues Blast since I moved here so this was a dream come true today," Eldred said. "Having Nick sit in with us is always great."