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2:58 AM Fri, Nov. 16th

Blues Magic: Old Town

Courtesy photo<br>
Fran Banish from Los Angeles is among the six musical groups performing at the Old Town Blues Festival on Saturday, March 29, at the Old Town Center for the Arts in Cottonwood.

Courtesy photo<br> Fran Banish from Los Angeles is among the six musical groups performing at the Old Town Blues Festival on Saturday, March 29, at the Old Town Center for the Arts in Cottonwood.

Joe Neri and Blues Dawg have planned a high-energy band festival for the fourth annual Old Town Blues Festival from 2-10 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at the Old Town Center for the Arts in Cottonwood.

Fran Banish from Los Angeles and Tommy Dukes from Winslow will be among the six musical groups performing.

Neri points out that this blues festival is different from other blues festivals in two ways. First, it's indoors and, second, the venue seats only 150, so the performances are intimate. Last year, the festival was almost sold out and this year Neri expects it to be sold out.

"We have different acts. It's all blues, but each band is different and each band is high energy," he said. "I'm proud of the lineup and it will be a killer show."

Neri and the Blues Dawg will not perform by themselves, but will back three of the other performers. Neri and Blues Dawg play contemporary electric blues with influences from Chicago, Texas, Memphis and California.

Neri, who puts this Cottonwood-based blues festival together, is the leader of the four-piece band with his guitar and vocals. Bob Dylan, who has the same birth date as Neri, is one of his influences. But the Paul Butterfield band is also right up there.

The other three members of Blues Dawg are:: Duane Ewing on saxophone; Hutch Hutchison on bass; and Gino Romeo on drums.

The headliners for this festival are Fran Banish and Tommy Dukes.

Dukes will come on at 6 p.m. backed by Joe Neri and Blues Dawg. Dukes is an Arizona Blues Hall of Famer who has played in Northern Arizona for decades. He's known for "Who You Been Giving It To?" and his own version of "Mustang Sally."

Banish will follow at 7:30 p.m., also backed up by Neri and Blues Dawg. Banish is considered the blues guitar master of Los Angeles. He is known for playing a wide range of the blues. At 9 p.m., all of the musicians who still are there will jam for the next hour.

Local favorite Llory McDonald will kick off the festival at 2 p.m. This blues rocker is known for her phenomenal slide guitar. She usually plays with Combo Deluxe but Neri and the Blues Dawgs will back her on this night.

Neri said backing up Dukes, Banish and McDonald is a dream come true.

McDonald will be followed by Outback Blues Band, Bresnan Blues Band and the Hoodoo Casters. Unlike past years, there will be no dinner break.

Neri is known in the area for leading blues jam sessions. On the first Thursday of each month, the blues jam session is at Relics Restaurant and Lounge in Sedona. On the third Thursday of each month, the blues jam is held at 1012 Lounge in Cottonwood. Another upcoming performance for Joe Neri and Blues Dawg is April 25 at My Dobro in Cottonwood.

Stan Bindell performs the Blues Magician show from 7-9 p.m. Monday nights on KUYI Hopi radio streaming online at KUYI.net. For more information email Bindell at thebluesmagician@gmail.com.