Two days€™ worth of monolithic, misery-drenched blues could easily be too much of a good€"or perhaps bad?€"thing. So you€™ve got to hand it to Omega Events€™ Rich Sherman and the organizers of the annual Doheny Blues Festival for presenting an array of acts that spotlight the various hues within the blues idiom.
Sure, the traditional blues is well-represented this year by veteran harmonica ace James Cotton. And who better than Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers to electrify an audience with their sizzling West Coast blues? Purists may raise their eyebrows to see classic rocker John Fogerty headlining Sunday evening, but numerous artists this weekend will lead us to the blues€™ edge, to regions beyond Chicago and the Mississippi Delta. For instance, the Canadian duo Harry Manx and Kevin Breit will dip into world folk and blues when Manx straps on his mohan veena, an eerie-sounding, 20-stringed Indian instrument. Also bringing an international flavor is Jussi Raulamo (a.k.a., Jo€™ Buddy!), a dynamo Finnish guitarist who mixes up boogie-woogie, swamp rock and soul with some raw, rootsy blues.
Traversing back to the USA€™s East Coast, we find a timeless style known as the Piedmont blues, which few play better than the Washington, D.C.-based Cephas & Wiggins. This acoustic, laid-back duo includes Phil Wiggins on the harp and John Cephas playing Piedmont-style guitar, alternating his thumb picks with finger strums, with the thumb creating a steady, loping bass as the melody is simultaneously picked out on the treble strings. Hearing this authentic rural blues in the intimate setting of the Back Porch Stage (Sunday, 3 p.m.) promises to be one of the weekend€™s true pleasures.
Oh, and the female perspective? It is well-balanced here, with contemporary blues singer/songwriter/guitarist Susan Tedeschi and traditional country blues singer/guitarist Rory Block. Why wallow in the same old love-gone-bad blues when this fest bends the genre so well?
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Doheny Blues Festival 2007 at Doheny State Beach Park, 25300 Dana Point Harbor Dr., Dana Point, (949) 360-7800; www.omegaevents.com. Sat.-Sun., 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. $40-$165. All ages.