Ashe gets the blues

Article Published: Sep. 2, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Ashe gets the blues

Sammy Blue hits the New River Blues Fest this Sunday at the Riverhouse Inn in Ashe County.

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The New River Blues Fest.

Think water.

Think scenery.

And think bluesy, rhythmic soul.

"This is going to be a day of absolute natural beauty because it's in a beautiful spot on the river," Penny Zamagni said.

Zamagni, or "the Queen Bee," is the bass player for the King Bees, the hosts of the festival, and she knows a thing or two about the blues. "It's celebration music," she said.

And she means it. To people like Zamagni, the blues aren't there to bring you down.

"It's not cry in your beer music," she said. "It's celebration music ... it's music about overcoming odds."

And it's danceable. Just ask the crowd of more than 500 expected Sunday.

"This is our eighth year now," she said. "We're the only festival in the High Country that brings African American true blues artists to the High Country."

They're the real deal, with names that just drip the blues: Shrimp City Slim & Juke Joint Johnny, Sammy Blue, The Blues Doctor, Ike & Vall Woods and more.

The best part for Zamagni? None of them are strangers.

"Many, many years ago, we (The King Bees) started going into the Deep South and learning our craft and our trade," she said. "Sometimes your egos get battered around but you learn, you learn how to play the blues."

The artists she'll play alongside are more than fellow musicians, they're mentors, and they'll even teach the audience a thing or two about the blues.

"People get the wrong impression about blues. When they really hear real, real blues, they become aware that it's celebration music," she said.

And she's ready to celebrate. It all happens Sunday at the Riverhouse Inn (1896 Old Field Creek Road) in Grassy Creek, Ashe County. Gates open at noon. The show is from 1-6 p.m. Gates open at noon. Tickets are $15 at the gate and $12 in advance.

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