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Thousands gathered in the Village at Colleyville for a hot night of cool blues

By Mike Orren / Pegasus News

Thousands gathered in the Village at Colleyville for a hot night of cool blues — and got a quadruple-dose of the real thing.
Blue Shoe Blues Fest II

COLLEYVILLE — I’ve been a fan of the Blue Shoe Project for a long time — I first met founders Jeff and Mike Dyson as they were launching what sounded like a Quixotic-but-cool initiative to bring attention to aging blues legends while simultaneously bringing blues music into area schools. Since then, they’ve reached over 60,000 Texas students and picked up a Grammy.

Almost equally remarkably, they managed to put on one of the most enjoyable local music fests I’ve seen around these parts, not in any of the usual Dallas or Fort Worth locales, but in Colleyville.

Blue Shoe Blues Fest II (of which Pegasus News was a media sponsor) drew a crowd of several thousand, which in and of itself isn’t unusual for a free suburban festival. What was unique was that it did so not with faded classic rock touring bands, or easily accessible cover bands — but with four serious blues acts.

The show opened in the 5:00 hour with a performance from Marquise “Big Daddy” Knox that was blistering, both in terms of the ambient temperature and the musicianship. Despite the fact that he’s only 18 years old, Marquise played the most straight-up, old-school set of the night. He effortlessly morphed from one blues style to another, attacking each song with a soulful growl.

Unfortunately, the crowd was still pretty thin for Knox’s set, but as clouds rolled in and the sun fell, it swelled to a guesstimated 3,000-4,000. I know that the folks from the Feedstore BBQ tent, at least, were pleasantly surprised by the turnout, as they were calling home base for reinforcements as I placed my order.
Blue Shoe Bluesfest II musical samples.

These were all recorded using my iPhone and are subject to sound limitations and crowd chatter, but should give a decent indicator of the music. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to do this until after Marquise Knox had already finished.

Houston’s Texas Johnny Brown was next with a set that incorporated as much R&B as pure blues. Still, he was ripping impressive guitar solos, even wandering around among the growing crowd on the lawn for part of his set.

My favorite artist of the night was local bluesman Tutu Jones, who went even broader, mixing blues, rock, jazz and soul. With originals and covers ranging from the Temptations to Jimi Hendrix, he had the crowd dancing. He has the kind of infectious energy that a Robert Randolph brings to a concert.

Closing the night was onetime child prodigy and now senior statesman Lucky Peterson. He’s a master of virtually every instrument, but spent the lion’s share of his set on the Hammond B-3 organ. He took to the guitar for the middle of the set, and clearly had chops to spare, but I preferred the organ-driven tunes which put me in mind of The Meters. There was also a cameo from Peterson’s new bride on a couple early numbers, but the band seemed at its best on a James Brown medley that included “Sex Machine” and “Talkin’ Lound and Sayin’ Nothin’.”

One thing that was consistent throughout the night was the quality of the musicianship. As Mike Dyson pointed out to me, “These are all guys for whom the Blues is a full-time job. That means we’re hearing masters of their craft– not just weekend warriors.”

The Colleyville crowd seemed appreciative of that, proving that you don’t need to pander to put on a big show in the ‘burbs.

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