Blues

Six Must-See Bands at Blues Blast 2014

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The Phoenix Blues Society sponsors and organizes the annual event, which is now in its 23rd year, and the organization's president Jim Crawford recommends planning ahead for a day in the sun, as the weather report calls for clear skies and temperatures in the 80s.

"Y'all stock up on the sunscreen and plan to spend the day with PBS and a cast of thousands at Blues Blast '14," he states in the latest PBS newsletter.

And while you're slathering on the SPF 80, around a half-dozen bands will be featured during the afternoon-long festival, which kicks off at 10 a.m. with free master classes for young blues players 18 and under, followed by seven straight hours of performances starting at 11 a.m. Here's a rundown of who's hitting the stage at this year's Blues Blast.

Conversation with Leon J from RootsBlues.com on Vimeo.

Leon J's Juke Joint Phoenix's Leon J. was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame back in 2011, but his musical journey began long before that particular honor. He first started exploring the art form while on his parent's gospel tour bus when he was only a 4-year-old. Over the decades, he's honed his craft, including his renowned soulful vocals, extensive blues chops, and his talents on the slide and finger-style guitar. The music is also well known for his storytelling abilities and a repertoire that stretches through musical history from the 1880s to modern times.

The Paul CruiZe Blues Crew The winners of the Arizona Blues Challenge in the band division and our state's entry into this year's International Blues Challenge in Memphis, the Paul CruiZe Blues Crew has no shortage of talent. The three piece band features Royce Murray on the Hammond organ, Tim Robinson on drums and Cruize on both guitar and vocals. Their songs include a mix of covers ("Loving on Borrowed Time," "Spitting Game," "Purple Rain") and originals ("Mumbo Jumbo," "Love all My Blues Away"). And you definitely don't want to miss their humorous take on the Bobbie Gentry classic, "Ode to Billy Joe"

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Stan Bindell