"Blues at the Crossroads" is a cross-country musical tour commemorating the 100th birthday of legendary Delta bluesman Robert Johnson. Blues fans (and everyone else!) won't want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime, rich, collaborative concert when it rolls in to Ridgefield Playhouse on Feb. 24, to celebrate this musical icon. Paying hommage to Johnson in concert are some of today's best bluesmen including Colorado band Big Head Todd & The Monsters, Rory Block, Hubert Sumlin, Cedric Burnside & Lightnin Malcolm. Known as "The King of Delta Blues," Johnson (1911-1938) was a musical pioneer who honed a playing style and songs still revered today. He died at 27, it's said from being poisoned, leaving behind only 29 songs. Among his best-known titles are "Come on in My Kitchen," "Kind Hearted Woman" and "Sweet Home Chicago." Eric Clapton, who recorded Johnson's songs, has called him, "the most important blues singer that ever lived." Johnson was inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame in 1986,
A recording of the "Crossroads" concert, "100 Years of Robert Johnson" (Ryko/Big Records) is due to be released at the beginning of March and features the concert's performers and others, including B. B. King, Charlie Musselwhite and David "Honeyboy" Edwards, who knew Johnson. It was recorded last fall at famed Ardent Studios in Memphis, with Grammy award winning blues producer Chris Goldsmith at the helm.
Todd Park Mohr, founder of Big Head Todd and The Monsters, has said the centennial project reconnected him to Johnson's enduring music which also strongly influenced some larger-than-life musicians, including Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, Cream, Bonnie Raitt and Canned Heat. Id always heard the more aggressive versions of Roberts more popular songs, Mohr said in an interview . But in studying his singing, guitar playing, and the songs themselves, I experienced a blues enlightenment. There is a rich complexity, a vulnerability and humanness throughout the Delta blues traditions that is often overlooked. n a way the Delta blues that Johnson represented is really the blood and guts of everything else that followed,." Hear the lineup of originals in their own right, pay tribute to the master with some rafter-shaking music when Ridgefield Playhouse presents "Blues at the Crossroads." The concert starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $65 and $75. For more information, visit the Playhouse's website .
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