Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival Announces 2013 Lineup

The 24th annual Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival will rock over Memorial Day weekend, May 25-26, at Rancho Santa Susanna Community Park, 5005 Los Angeles Ave., in Simi Valley. The festival features two full stages for each of its musical genres. Music will proceed non-stop each day from 12 noon until 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20 (adults 13+) and $15 (children) and are available online at or at the gate. Parking is ample and free. Fast-moving California Hwy. 118 (Ronald Reagan Freeway) can be taken to the Stearns Street exit; the festival is four blocks south.

Co-headlining the blues stage this year, Alligator recording artist Janiva Magness and Elvin Bishop will lead a Tribute to Finis Tasby.

Janiva Magness received the coveted 2009 Blues Music Award for B.B. King Entertainer of the Year (she is the second woman to ever win this award; Koko Taylor was the first). She also won Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year for three years. She has received a total of 22 Blues Music Award nominations to date, including five nominations this year. Her album Stronger For It is her tenth.

Elvin Bishop, who will lead a tribute to ailing Texas bluesman Finis Tasby, a member of the Mannish Boys, with John Nemeth and Kid Anderson, began his career with the Butterfield Blues Band. He notched a #3 pop hit with the single “I Fooled Around and Fell in Love” in 1976. His latest recording (and 18th album) is the live Raisin’ Hell Revue on Delta Groove Records.

Meanwhile, on the Cajun stage, Rounder Records artists and two-time Grammy Award nominees and 2013 winner Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, will headline both Saturday and Sunday; Swampland star Teresa Russell, Southern California’s own Lisa Haley, Leroy Thomas & the Zydeco Roadrunners, David Sousa & the Zydeco Mudbugs, J Paul D. & the Zydeco Nubreeds and Andre Thierry & the Zydeco Magic will create a Louisiana-style fais-do-do. A sizeable dance floor will be built alongside the stage. The annual Mardi Gras Parade will take place both days at 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, back at the blues stage (and festival goers are encouraged to go back and forth), other performers include the Mannish Boys with guests Curtis Salgado, Kevin Selfe, Peter Dammann, Otis Grand and Audrey Turner; Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King with guests Bob Corritore, Rand Chortkoff and Big Pete; Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, Andy T/Nick Nixon Band with Anson Funderbaugh; James Herman’s Back Porch Revue; and the Delta Groove Harp Blast.

The blues stage also presents two young blues up-and-comers, redefining the genre for a new generation: Nathan James & His Rhythm Scratchers and Kara Grainger. Nathan James plays his self-invented washboard guitar, harmonica and kazoo. His 2012 What You Make of It album was called “one of the most original blues CDs (and bands) to come along in a long time.” Of Australian-born Kara Grainger — soon to release her Delta Groove Records debut album — Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper noted, "There's a whole lot of Bonnie Raitt in (her songs) . . . Grainger's alternately throaty and honeyed voice floats over a . . . bed of bluesy accompaniment."

The festival has received national press accolades: “Everywhere you turned, there was something exciting happening. Put this on your 2013 festival calendar,” wrote Blue Revue editor Art Tipaldi, who made the trek from New England. The Blues Blast writer enthused, “I attend many venues and festivals throughout the year but the ones that seem to impress me the most are the ones that serve the community in some way. I highly recommend you put this on your calendar for next Memorial Day weekend.” And the music industry trade journal Hits added, “As the last strains of (Candye) Kane’s set rang in our ears, we left the grounds fully sated by music, food, drink and, as the saying goes, bon temps.”

This family-friendly event boasts a huge kids’ area with bouncers, rock walls. specialty acts, crafts and talent shows.

The festival boasts dozens of food booths featuring a variety of fare: authentic Cajun creations and Southern BBQ as well as multi-cultural cuisine. More than 100 craft booths and retailers will be scattered throughout the festival grounds.

Tickets may be obtained online.

Support of the not-for-profit Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Music Festival has benefited dozens of local community, national and international organizations a list of which may be found here.

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