Selected by Dan Grunebaum

Japan Blues Carnival

Photos courtesy of M&I Company

Buddy Guy Shannon Curfman

Buddy Guy

Shannon Curfman

This year' fifteenth edition of Japan's largest blues festival looks to be a barnburner with Chicago blues king Buddy Guy headlining a strong lineup at Shibuya On Air East and the outdoor Hibiya Yagai Ongakudo.

Emerging from the Baton Rouge, Louisiana blues scene, Buddy Guy followed a long string of aspiring bluesmen, heading north to Chicago in 1957 to make his name. Taken under wing by mentor Muddy Waters, Guy was soon recording as Waters' sideman and releasing his own singles for the seminal blues label Chess. Early songs like 1960's "First Time I Met the Blues" showcased Guy's wailing vocals and incendiary whammy-bar guitar licks which were to earn him a hero's status with rock monsters Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. A fertile '70s partnership with harmonica player Junior Wells was followed by a long fallow period in the '80s when Guy couldn't even obtain a record contract. He ultimately reemerged with the '90s blues revival to take his rightful place on top of the heap, earning three Grammies along the way.

Next on the bill is Mississippi-born, Chicago-raised Carl Weathersby, a soulful blues artist and Vietnam vet who did stints as a policeman and prison guard before embarking on a career in the blues. Working as harmonica player for Billy Branch's Sons of Blues from 1982 to 1996, Weathersby finally issued his first solo release, Don't Lay Your Blues on Me (Evidence), which won a nomination for Best New Blues Album in '96. His subsequent releases, recorded with New Orleans musicians David Torkanowsky on piano and Herman Ernest III on drums, have been equally well received.

Keeping with the Blues Carnival's mission of introducing up-and-coming artists, this year's lineup features North Dakota native Shannon Curfman, the 15-year-old blues rock phenom who recently created a stir with her debut album Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions (Arista).

Filling out the bill are domestic talents guitarist Shun Kikuta who will be appearing with singer Nellie "Tiger" Travis, the Uchida Kantaro Trio, Fusanosuke Kondo and Yoshiki Kojima, and Tokyo-based expat bluesman Georgie Pie.

Japan Blues Carnival takes place at Shibuya On Air East on 5/24 and Hibiya Yagai Ongakudo on 5/27-28. See listings for details.

Concert Listings
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel


392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana