Genoa Blues Festival: Good times, music and food

Kenny Neal
Kenny Neal is the real deal who will headline the Genoa Blues Festival on July 30.
Photo by Dusty Scott / Blind Pig Records

Laissez les bons temps rouler! Louisiana’s frequently used Cajun French expression for “Let the good times roll” fits for the Genoa Blues Festival like red beans and rice.

Kenny Neal and the Family Band headline the show from 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at the Genoa Station State Historic Park. Grady Champion, an International Blues Challenge champion, also will perform, along with Reno’s Buddy Emmer Blues Band.

The idea for the event came from South Lake Tahoe blues enthusiast Brad Andres.

“This is the real deal,” Andres said. “Kenny Neal is from Baton Rouge and Grady Champion is from Canton, Mississippi. You can’t get more Delta than that.”

Learning an instrument in the Neal family is like learning how to talk. Neal, best known for his guitar and harmonica, is the son of Raful Neal, whose 10 children all became professional musicians. However, the Neal family is nearly as famous for their food, and Kenny has given Andres his recipe for Louisiana dirty rice which will be served at the festival.

Kenny Neal has won almost every blues honor, including Best Song for “Let Life Flow,” a tune he wrote in a hospital bed during a battle he won over Hepatitis C. A member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, Neal has been nominated for five Grammy Awards. He also starred in the 1991 Broadway production “Mule Bone.”

Champion also plays harmonica and guitar. He co-wrote a Grammy-winning song performed by Etta James, and he won the 2010 International Blues Challenge. He has his own label, DeChamp Records, which includes 2015 IBC winner Eddie Cotton Jr., another Canton, Mississippi resident.

Emmer will get the Genoa Blues Festival started with some Texas guitar gunslinging.

“It’s a really cool setting with a great vibe, tri-tip  and microbrews,” Emmer said. “It’s going to be a beautiful day of blues.

“My roots are deep in Texas. I moved out here when I was in my late 20s. My Texas influence is undeniable. Bob Wills, Johnny Winter, Billy Gibbons — those guys were just local bands you could see in a bar. I saw Jimmie Vaughan in a cover band called the Chestnuts, and Eric Johnson and the Electro Magnetics and Anson Funderburgh with the Bees Knees.”

Emmer opened for Kenny Neal at The Garage at the former Hilton in Reno. He has a photo of himself jamming with Neal, who let Emmer play his 1966 Telecaster with a guitar strap given to him by Carlos Santana.

Andres has hosted several private shows but this will be his initial public event.

“This is my first time out but I know I love the music and want to reach all the people like me who love the music,” Andres said. “Let’s make the blues shine bright again.”

Gates open at Saturday, July 30, at 2 p.m. and the music will last until about 7. General Admission tickets are $32.50. VIP tickets, which include food and special seats, are $48.50. All tickets are available at Eventbrite.com.

The Genoa Blues Festival is a “boutique blues event,” meaning there are a limited number of tickets. This will be an intimate setting between musicians and audience. VIP tickets get special seating and other benefits, while General Admission can spread out on blankets and folding chairs on Mormon Station’s 3½-acre Historic Station State Park, 2295 Main St, Genoa, Nevada 89411.

To purchase tickets, click the link HERE

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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