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I was 19 then, and was trying to decide which summer music festival to go
to: the first annual Ann Arbor Blues Festival in Michigan, or a big rock
festival in upstate New York at a place called Woodstock. I chose the blues,
and I'm glad I did.
The drive over with my buddy, Jim Vales (may he rest in peace), in his 1965
red Chevy Impala was not far, the weather was great, and we camped out at
Otis Spann Memorial Field on or near the U. of Michigan. 99% of the living
blues legends were appearing, but I had recently started focusing in hard on
blues harp, Charlie Musselwhite in particular, and he was one of the people
I was most interested in seeing.
One of the best things about the whole deal was that you didn't have the
huge crowds that you got at rock shows. There was plenty of room for
everyone, and it never got ugly. I will try my best to list here all of the artists who appeared, but I will
start with one who wasn't there (John Lee Hooker: that's why I said 99% were
Over three afternoons and two or three evenings, we saw and heard the
Roosevelt Sykes, Luther Allison, Jimmy Dawkins, Mighty Joe Young, Howling
Wolf, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Musselwhite, Memphis Jug Band, Big Mama
Thornton, Son House, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, Hound Dog Taylor, Otis
Rush, Sam Lay, James Cotton, and others. It has been so long that I simply
cannot recall all of the artists who appeared.
If anyone out there was in attendance, please let me know. I would like to
get a real listing of the artists at Ann Arbor I. It was a life-changing