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Long Beach Blues Festival goes on hiatus; Blues Bash planned instead

July 7, 2010 | 12:24 pm

Citing a tough economic climate, local jazz and blues standard-bearers KKJZ-FM (88.1) has announced that the long-running Long Beach Blues Festival will be going on hiatus this year, breaking a Labor Day tradition that lasted 30 years.

On the bright side for blues fans, the Long Beach-based public radio station announced it will be carrying on the spirit of the festival with the KJAZZ Blues Bash, to be held at the festival's traditional home -- the Cal State Long Beach campus. Scheduled for Sept. 4 at the university's Carpenter Center, the Blues Bash will offer a free outdoor fair featuring food and local music, culminating with a ticketed concert that evening featuring Keb' Mo', Guitar Shorty and Jon Cleary. Ticket details and further information about the lineup are still to be announced.

First staged in 1980 (back when KKJZ was known as KLON), the Long Beach Blues Festival spanned all three days of Labor Day weekend from 1996-2000 and held to a two-day format since 2001. In its long run,  it's offered a lush buffet of blues, roots music and R&B that included multiple performances by legends such as B.B. King, John Lee Hooker and Bo Diddley, as well as more rock-oriented acts such as the Black Crowes and Los Lobos.

While news of the hiatus is certainly troubling, KKJZ station manager Stephanie Levine remains committed to the festival's future. “The Blues Festival hiatus was a tough decision,” Levine said in a statement. “But, we will continue to work toward bringing back the festival in all its glory.”

-- Chris Barton

Photo: B.B. King performing in Memphis, Tenn.,  in 2005. Credit: Lisa Poole / Associated Press

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