Michael John’s 7th Annual Simi Valley Blues Festival

Written by on February 23, 2012 in February 23, 2012, Interviews - Comments Off on Michael John’s 7th Annual Simi Valley Blues Festival

To Help Keep The Blues Alive In Southern California

Michael John's 7th Annual Simi Valley Blues Festival(SIMI VALLEY, CALIF) – Michael John’s 7th Annual Simi Valley Blues Festival, one of the most anticipated Blues festivals of the year in Southern California, takes place at beautiful Hummingbird Nest Ranch,  2940 Kuehner Drive, Simi Valley, Saturday, April 28, 2012.  Gates open at 10 a.m. Tickets $25. in advance, $30. at the gate; available now at www.simiblues.org. Info: (805) 675-8668. Portion of proceeds from the festival benefit the American Diabetes Association along with other local charities. Presented by the Kiwanis Club of Simi Valley.

Heavy hitters headlining this year’s Simi Valley Blues Festival include renowned guitar aces Tommy Castro and Walter Trout, along with harp virtuoso/vocalist, Curtis Salgado. Also on the bill: popular longtime SoCal act The Delgado Brothers (with dynamic guest vocalist Sherry Pruitt); and former IBC Finalist (as well as festival founder), Michael John And the Bottom Line. Special Guest Emcee: Mickey Jones. Also Food & Craft Vendors, Guitar Giveaway, Kids Areas and more.

All Access Magazine (AAM) had a chance to chat with festival founder Michael John (MJ) recently.

AAM: How and when did you come up with the idea to start the Simi Valley Blues Festival?

MJ: I have always wanted to do something to give back to my community and what better way than through my music and all of my musician friends. Technically we had the first Simi Valley Blues Festival in my back yard July of 2005 with about 140 people and five bands, what a party it was! That was the day the Simi Valley Blues Festival was born. In 2006 it was official. I had pulled a lot of favors from musician friends to donate a set of music along with the help of family and friends. From its very first year we were able to make generous donations to charities. My vision for this event was to have an event which funds itself while making a difference for charitable organizations. And with the help from a small non-profit organization “Write4Hope” we were off and running. The first three festivals were held at Oak Park, each year it grew larger, we had crowds of around 700 to 1,000 people and I am proud to say my festival has grown leaps and bounds.

I am very excited that my band will be the opening band for our 2012 festival and having an amazing strong lineup for an affordable price so that everyone young and old can enjoy. I also want to mention how proud I am of my band members in the Bottom Line, Chuck Lee my Brother and Bass player, Mike Mo my son and lead guitarist, Eddie Z friend for over twenty years on Sax, Tom T-Bone Broderick also a friend for over twenty years on Drums and Jeff Delisanti a long time friend and band member on Sax. We have performed every year at the festival and my guys have always donated their talents from the very first year. I am very proud of them for donating their time to such a worthy event. Each year we have friends sit in with our band including my very dear friend Musician/Actor, the legendary Mickey Jones who has been our Emcee from the very first festival including the first one in my back yard. I am so blessed to have the family and friends I have and to be able to do something so positive while having fun doing it.

AAM: The Festival is held at the scenic Hummingbird Nest Ranch. How did you end up with that venue location?

MJ: We had simply asked them if they would be interested in supporting our event and they were very happy to do so.The ranch has had numerous movies and television shows filmed there. The folks at the Hummingbird Nest Ranch are very generous. They are about supporting charitible events and we are grateful to them .The arena where the festival is held is breathtaking. You have to take a short bus ride up to the festival if you park below or we offer preferred parking on the ranch. We had about 3,500 people last year and expect to have approximately 4,500 for our 2012 event.

AAM: Do you recall your first Simi Valley Blues Festival lineup?

MJ: I remember it very well.  These guys are my buds, my homies….lol… BB Chung King Headlined with special guest and my very dear friend and brother who I grew up with, Coco Montoya.. Also on the bill were The Delgado Brothers, the Nelsen Adelard Band, Jeff Jensen Band, Forced Call, Michael John and The Bottom Line and our Celebrity Emcee Mickey Jones. We had a great time……..I’m excited about having the Delgado Brothers back this year and I have also called on BB to come on out and sit in with us.

AAM: What are some of the Festival’s high-water moments to date?

MJ: I have to say there had been a few which come to mind, every year our crowds have grown, this has been my vision. At our 2010 festival which was the first year at the ranch, it was about 3:00PM in the afternoon and my daughter Roxie who also works the festival said to me Dad, I want you to close your eyes and come with me, she took me by the hand up to the stage area and said open your eyes. I was looking out at 3,000 people having a great time, a dream which came true. From a party in my backyard to this amazing event all due to dedication and hard work from family and friends to make it the success it is today. The other moment which comes to mind was just last year, as many of you know my dear friend Mickey Jones who has played drums for Trini Lopez, Kenny Rogers, Bob Dylan and the legendary Johnny Rivers. Well, Mickey gave a special invite to Johnny Rivers which Johnny took him up on, Johnny Rivers showed up and sat in with Coco Montoya and the crowed was just floored. I knew about this earlier and made my way to the stage area as I wanted to see the reaction of the festival fans when Mickey introduced him on to the stage, it was very cool to see all the jaws dropping with this amazing surprise. Mr. Rivers played some blues standards as well as a few of his legendary hits we have all grown up and listen to and love. There is no question there are many more of these moments to come.

AAM: How do you go about determining the bands lineup for the Festival each year?

MJ: When I look at the acts for the lineup, I make sure to try and mix it up as much as possible while still bringing in some of the favorite National and regional acts. This year we went with only five bands because one of the main complaints I’ve heard was that the bands are not playing long enough. My band will open the festival with an hour set then the 2012 IBC Finalist The Delgado Brothers with Sherry Pruitt will perform for an hour. Coming on after the Delgado Brothers is the Legendary Walter Trout for a 75-minute set, there is no question Walter will set the place on fire, I am so excited to have him as part of our festival. Co Headliner Curtis Salgado with his soulful vocals and harmonica will be a sure crowd pleaser. Curtis is currently nominated for a Blues Music Award for Best Male Vocalist for Blues and soul. Closing out the show is crowd favorite Tommy Castro, if you know the blues scene you know Castro, He is currently up for five Blues Music awards including the BB King Entertainer of the year award. This will be a show you will not want to miss. We have three national acts which you would normally pay $25.00 to $30.00 to see just one of them perform.

Go to our website and purchase your presale ticket for only $25.00, tickets are $30.00 at the gate. This is a charity event, what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon listening to great music while making a difference in the lives of others.  www.simiblues.org

AAM: Each year the Festival has a major charity it donates some of the proceeds to, this year being the American Diabetes Association. Talk about this process.

MJ: I had adopted the American Diabetes Association as our primary charity. Diabetes has impacted so many of us one way or another. Both my parents who have passed had Diabetes and many friends I know either have it or have family or friends that have it. Also, the proceeds support local charities such as the free clinic for people that don’t have medical insurance and The Samaritan Center for folks needing a helping hand getting their life back on track along with other charitable organizations.

AAM: Your own band, Michael John and the Bottom Line, were finalists for the IBC (International Blues Challenge) a few years back and also perform at the Festival. When did you form the band?

MJ: I have played music all my life, music is so good for the soul as many of us would agree. My Band, Michael John and The Bottom Line was formed in 2001.  We have had some great success along the way and have recorded four CDs. In 2006 we competed at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and went on to the finals, this was an experience I will never forget and for any band that has had this opportunity will tell you the same thing. It was amazing; to be in a competition with great bands from all over the world and to be in the Top 10 was an incredible feeling. That year California was strongly represented by three bands that made it to the finals. Michael John and The Bottom Line, The 44’s and Aunt Kizzy’s Boyz. To be in the top ten bands was an experience of a life time.

Our latest CD is called Family and Friends and that is truly what it is, with a mix of originals and covers it is my favorite of them all.

AAM: Looking ahead, what are some of your long-term goals and desires for the Simi Valley Blues Festival?

MJ:  Thank you for asking this question, this may sound like a cliché but I want to be one who is a part of making a difference in the lives of others, truly. I see my festival growing and becoming one of the largest non-profit blues festivals in California and generating more revenue to support service clubs and charitable originations not only in Simi Valley, but all of Ventura County.

I am proud to announce the newly formed 501(c)(3), the Ventura County Blues Society of which I am the President and founder. We are scheduling events in which we will be supporting charitable organizations throughout the year.  We are dedicated to preserving the blues its musicians educating and giving back to the community. We always welcome new members, join and receive discounts to our many live blues shows along with many other membership perks Visit our website to see what we are about www.venturacountybluessociety.org and look for our kick off to our concert series on July 8th.  We will hold a band challenge in which we will send a band to Memphis to represent the society at the 2013 International Blue Challenge in Memphis scheduled for September 29th 2013.

For more information on the Blues festival go to www.simiblues.org

Don’t forget to go to the blues society website as well www.venturacountybluessociety.org