Prior to our set, Debbie, her daughter and granddaughter presented me with a huge birthday card signed by many of the fans at the festival, and a huge cake! I was blown away, as it was a total surprise. My birthday is the 23rd and we always joke that the Hot August Festival is my annual 39th birthday party!
Saturday was time for fun as I got to sit back with my buddies and listen to the other bands. My favorite was Scott Holt. I appeared at a festival on the same bill as Scott a few years ago, and had seen him umpteen years ago when he played with Buddy Guy. He's lost all his hair, but still has his chops! (I'm way behind him in the chops department, but closing in rapidly in the hair department) He even stopped by for a pic during his "guitar walk."
One of the bands Saturday, Flashback, from Jackson, TN, included Julie Rhodes, a talented keyboard player/singer who I remembered from when she worked in radio and I worked in TV in Jackson years ago. She didn't remember me, but that's understandable since it was almost 20 years ago, and I was pretty much forgettable in those days! (maybe still am!) They did a good job though and it was nice to see a band from my native West Tennessee! Later, my friends from the Bluesberry Blues band from Jackson came on and did a GREAT job, too.
My friend Sharon stopped by to show me she STILL has the tattoo on her leg featuring a line from one of my songs. It's a good song, "State Line Blues," but I'm not sure I even like it that much. Maybe it's just the pain thing.
Speaking of tattoos, I got some sad news. For many years, everytime we played this festival, one of our biggest fans, Deborah, came running up to me to get her picture made and she would dance, and dance while we played. She was a true free spirit, covered in tattoos on the outside, and love on the inside. She was the inspiration for our song, "Tattoo Blues." Three years ago, she didn't show up. The next year, when she didn't show up, we tried to call around and ask to see if she was ok, but no luck. This year, I didn't see her, but I saw her husband, and asked about her. He told me she took sick 3 years ago, and then passed away last year. It was his first time back to a blues festival. He said it was tough. He said every year when they came to the festival there were only 2 people she HAD to have her picture made with: Me and Big Mike Griffin. I told him we had been worried and wondering about her and that we'd remember him in our thoughts and prayers, and told him we missed her very, very much. Rest in peace, Deborah! You are missed, you are loved and you are remembered.
(Col. JD, Deborah, me)(Briggy, Deborah, me)
It was so good to see other friends, like Amy Carraway. She's a great gal who really puts a lot of time in on Hot August, and always has a wonderful smile and encouraging word.
And then there's my friend and associate, Ned G. Gunn.....who won the Charles Nelson Reilly look alike contest, the dance contest, and the cherry bomb contest, among others.... Ned's wife, Carla is perfect for him. Any other woman would have given him the "burning bed" treatment by now..... I love how she takes a long, slow drag off a cigarette, turns her head, and tells him to "shut up," to which he replies, "I know you love me baby, now eat your corn dog."
Another year, another summer, another sunburn, another marathon blues-a-rama. That's Hot August Blues Festival!