Blues attract hundreds

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By ERIN MAYES

It was a day of sun, long beer lines and, of course, the blues.

Hundreds of people who showed up for the eighth annual Sonora Blues Festival at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds over the weekend paid $30 for purple plastic wristbands that were their tickets to 11 hours of music, shopping, mingling, drinking and eating.

Many said this year's lineup of musicians was particularly good.

Golden Bear Freer of San Andreas said he was excited to see Corby Yates on the musicians' lineup. The 20-year-old won the Jimi Hendrix Electric Guitar Competition when he was only 14, and is thought to be something of a boy wonder.

Freer has been attending the festival for several years as a vendor he was manning the booth for his San Andreas shop, Bear Tree Trading Post. He said it seemed there were more people at this year's event than last year, when scorching temperatures might have scared some would-be revelers away.

This year, the temperature stayed livable, allowing for a comfortable enough environment so blues fans could peruse the goods.

Sacramento-based Tulani's, an eclectic boutique with Asian, Indian and African goods, saw more customers this year, too.

Owner Henry Rhetta agreed it was probably the slightly cooler weather that brought in the crowd.

Karen Peracca of Greeley Hill said this was her and her family's first year at the event. She said that although she enjoys the music quite a bit especially Norton Buffalo she was mainly interested in attending the workshops.

Blues players, including members of Norton Buffalo, held the workshops in the Manzanita Hall, with topics including blues keyboards, blues harp, blues guitar styles, a guitar "Q&A demonstration," jump, swing and West Coast sound. Peracca sings and plays guitar in a rock and blues band called Rockslide, and said she just wanted to learn more about music.

But most people were there to be entertained. They brought in lawn chairs and ice chests, rooted out spots on the lawn and enjoyed the tunes.

Some tapped their toes and some danced. Near the front of the stage, there was always something of a middle-aged mosh-pit going on, as long as there was music being played.

Little Charlie and the Nightcats kept the audience captivated and harmonica player and singer Rick Estrin managed to stay energetic in his doubtlessly warm gray suit and sunglasses.

Other bands included the Tommy Castro Band, the Ford Brothers Blues Band, Roy Rogers and Norton Buffalo, Tom Rigney and Flambeau, Mofo Party Band, Guy Budd Band, Rhythm Deluxe, Studebaker Blues Band and TJR.

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