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Festival Brings New Orleans Music, Flavors To San Diego

From left to right, Johnny Vernazza tunes guitar, sax player Walter Gentry (center), Len Rainey (far right) Edward Cleveland sits behind drum set at KPBS, April, 30, 2015.
From left to right, Johnny Vernazza tunes guitar, sax player Walter Gentry (center), Len Rainey (far right) Edward Cleveland sits behind drum set at KPBS, April, 30, 2015.

14th annual Gator By the Bay Festival offers zydeco, blues and crawfish

Festival Brings New Orleans Music, Flavors To San Diego
Festival Brings New Orleans Music, Flavors To San Diego GUESTS:Johnny "V" Vernazza, lead guitarist Len Rainey, bassist Walter Gentry, sax player Edward Cleveland, drummer

A little bit of Cajun country is planning San Diego Bay this weekend. The 14th annual gator by the they zydeco and blues Festival starts tonight and features four days of live music. The festival boasts over 85 musical acts, nonstop dancing and 10,000 pounds of crawfish trucked in from Louisiana. Recently some of this use musicians of the blues variety stop by our studio to give us a little preview. [MUSIC] Thank you. What a great way to start a gator by the Bay. Let me to do's this group of musicians who will be playing at the gator by the Bay Festival. Johnny "V" for not so -- or NASA -- and Edward Cleveland on d rums. Thank you guys so much. That was great. Johnny this is the sixth gator by the Bay Festival for you, what keeps you coming back? It has a great vibe as first kind of what you would call a boutique festival, it can't get daycare that because of the space and a very eclectic type of music. It is not a genre specific to blues. Is Latino and rockabilly and country and it is just a fabulous one-of-a-kind festival. There are not too many festivals like that around anymore. It's a dance oriented festival. People just don't sit there. Exactly. That's part of the magic. The whole atmosphere is people going there to eat and dance and look around and all the stages to you the different types of music. It's a great family day and not just a blues festival or a rock festival. It's an experience. As a blues musician, what do you pick up from festivals like this? You get to listen to other artists and stuff like that? You get to hear everybody, especially at Gator by the Bay Festival. I can hear the zydeco stuff because I was never privileged to get to New Orleans to see all that good stuff. I'm from Chicago and Wisconsin areas of music in New Orleans is a lot different. When you come down to gator UK to hear all of it, that, and you get to see all the great musicians. A while ago, a couple of years back, people were saying San Diego didn't have much of a blues presence, that wasn't really a blues town, but it's getting a bigger audience, do you think? I think it is. The blues community here in San Diego is very strong and they are very active in doing a lot of things. There is just a lack of venues and places to play which is almost like that everywhere even in San Francisco Bay area where I'm from, there is not the venues there used to be back like let's say in the 70s and there were lots of places to play. LAN, what your take on that? I'm going on my 28th year in San Diego. I have done it in seen it all and I been a lucky guy. Either lucky enough to make my living playing the blues but San Diego throughout the stage has been a jazz town. The blues community is big. It is well followed, but the Jazz when I first got here in the 80s I would say it was a smooth jazz and blues has its niche just like everywhere. I've been lucky. I've made my living playing the blues so I can't complain. We are going to ask you to play the blues again. The next song you're going to play is can't remember your n ame. Can you do that for us now? Sounds good. [MUSIC] That's can't remember your name and that is one of the L en's originals. I'm here with the group and we are talking about blues and talking about Gator by the Bay Festival. Thanks again for playing that song. Let's talk about the bands performing at Gator by the Bay Festival, who was coming in? Besides the big list of bands playing there the weekend, I've had my stage the last six years, this year I had the pleasure of having very Goldberg who played organ on Mitch Ryder's double with the blue dress and actual founding member of electric flag and played with Bob Dylan and wrote I have got to use my imagination by Gladys Knight. Marcie -- Coe wrote lay down Sally with Eric Clapton. Milliamp Sam Lay who was inducted into the rock 'n roll Hall of blues fame. I've got more guests this euthanasia have.I used to have one or two but it worked out or I can get them all together on one stage so it's going to be fantastic. Talk about Cajun music, you have got BeauSoleil coming up. Johnny was telling me a bit about that. They're going to be good. There so many names. I see so many and hear so many that it confused me in New Orleans. What's it like Len to be playing and then see a whole audience just or the dancing and just grooving to what you are doing? It's a great feeling. I been doing it now since way back, but it's still a strong feeling. Is a good feeling and good to know people are out there with you and behind you. One of the things that Gator by the Bay Festival says is they bring in 10,000 pounds of crawfish. Are you going to be eating any crawdads? I usually take part in the bid of that. The food is tremendous and they have a wide selection. They got the alligator out there. Okay. I'm going to have to work up to that. I has out to get us in the mood for the festival. I think we're we are going to be playing one of your compositions off your new album called the jungle. Yes, I write everything when I'm driving and that was something I wrote kind of about growing up in San Francisco. It in interesting song as I like to say. I can't wait to hear it. Thank you. [MUSIC] thanks again to musicians Johnny "V," Len rainy, Walter gentry, the gator by the Bay Festival kicks off tonight. The festival runs through Sunday and Spanish Landing Park on North Harbor Drive. Be sure to watch KPBS evening edition tonight on KPBS television. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. Thanks for listening.

A little bit of Cajun country is landing at San Diego Bay this weekend.

The 14th annual Gator by the Bay Zydeco, Blues and Crawfish festival features four days of live music with over 85 musical acts, non-stop dancing, and 10,000 pounds of crawfish trucked in from Louisiana.

Grammy winners Michael Doucet and BeauSoleil will headline the festival at Spanish Landing Park, which runs through Mother's Day weekend.

“This is a festival where there is something for everyone,” said Gator By The Bay producer Peter Oliver in a press release. “I can guarantee that you will discover something that you haven’t seen, heard or tasted before.”

Other headliners include multiple Grammy-nominated Cajun band Pine Leaf Boys and Houston zydeco band Brian Jack & the Zydeco Gamblers. There are a number of local favorites on the line-up, including blues guitarist Johnny Vernazza, who fired up his band for a preview Thursday on Midday Edition.

About 20,000 people are expected to attend, organizers said.