BeauSoleil’s Michael Doucet Talks About The Music


On Thursday, May 7, three time Grammy-winning Cajun band BeauSoleil Avec Michael Doucet will headline the Gator By the Bay Festival kick-off concert at Spanish Landing Park, across from San Diego International Airport.

Celebrating their 40th anniversary, the band has been called “the world’s greatest Cajun band” by Garrison Keillor, host of the iconic NPR radio show “A Prairie Home Beausoleil on A prairie HomeCompanion”, on which BeauSoleil has appeared more times than band leader Michael Doucet can count.  “I think we have played on the show at least once per year since 1982,” he recalls, “and in the early days, it really opened the door for us and introduced our music to a whole new audience. We’ve been told that we have been on more shows than any other guest artists.” Continue reading

Latin Music Will Be Muy Caliente At Gator By the Bay

If you thought that Gator By the Bay was just about Cajun, zydeco and blues music, you’d only be partially right.  As awesome as those genres are, and as much as they form the heart of the festival, in recent years Gator By the Bay has expanded its boundaries to travel south, across the border, to include  a variety of Latin music.  The sounds of Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Cuba, and beyond all have a place at the festival, adding Latin spice to the musical gumbo. Here are some of the artists you can expect to see at Gator By the Bay: Continue reading

Sara Petite: Her Name May Mean “Small” But Her Talent Is Huge


George Varga, music critic for  U-T San Diego once said of Sara Petite, “There is no medical evidence to prove that Lucinda Williams, Nanci Griffith and Carrie Rodriguez joined forces to mother a fully-grown musician daughter.  But if they did, San Diego singer-songwriter Sara Petite would be the likely outcome.”

You could add Lucinda Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin into that hypothetical mix as well, but the fact is, Sara Petite doesn’t need to be compared to anyone.  In the finest singer-songerwriter tradition, her music, voice and presence are totally her own, telling her stories in her unique way, while earning her nickname, Sweet Pea.  Her style ranges from bluegrass to country to rock’n’roll, and most of her material is wholly original. She counts among her influences Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Dolly Parton, Steve Earle, June Carter, and even Minnie Pearl. “I just love her humor!” she laughs.

Winner of the 2012 prestigious Chris Austin songwriting contest at Merlefest, and three San Diego Music Awards, in 2013 Sara released her fourth album, The Circus Comes To Town written both before and after the death of her partner, drummer Johnny Kuhlken, a tragedy that effected Petite intensely. “It’s a full perspective of the human being – jealousy, infidelity, fun, wit, tragedy, pain, loss, perseverance, substance abuse, shame, guilt and just plain silliness,” she says.

A crowd favorite, Sara has been playing at Gator By the Bay since 2008. Originally from Washington, she’s performed with her band, the Sugar Daddies, around San Diego for 10 years now, and recently returned from a very successful European tour.  She’ll be opening for Cajun music stars Beausoleil Avec Michael Doucet at the Thursday night concert, and she’s excited to be participating in Gator By the Bay again this year.  “It’s really fun for me,” she notes. “One of my favorite things is going around the festival and listening to other bands that I don’t often get to hear.”

When asked about her songwriting process, Petite explains,“ Sometimes I co-write with a friend, and sometimes it’s just me.  Sometimes the melody comes first, other times it’s the lyrics.  It’s more often late at night that something comes to me, even when I’m dreaming—or maybe half-dreaming.”

Catch Sara on Thursday,  May 7, at 7pm.


More Blues Artists Added to Gator By the Bay

Wayne Baker Brooks will appear at Gator By the Bay on Sunday

Wayne Baker Brooks will appear at Gator By the Bay on Sunday

Blues lovers won’t be feeling blue when they see the Gator By the Bay schedule for 2015. The festival not only features the hottest Cajun & zydeco music, but also three days of one of the strongest blues lineups around.

Here are some highlights so far. We’ll be updating as more artists and performances are added to the schedule.

On Friday night, the Bourbon Street Stage will be blues central .Festival goers can indulge in delectables from the food court while getting their groove on or hit the dancefloor and boogey all evening long.  Velvet Café opens with their mélange of blues, jazz and rock, and then Nathan James & the Rhythm Scratchers, featuring Sonny Leyland will bring their homemade blues—and maybe some homemade instruments—to the stage.

As the night gets hotter, local harmonica virtuoso Big Jon Atkinson, will be getting together with some of his friends— and by friends we mean Fabulous Thunderbirds co-founder and harmonica and vocal frontman Kim Wilson, guitarist , singer and songwriter Kid Ramos, another Fabulous Thunderbirds alumni whose bio also includes work with James Harman, Room Full of Blues, The Mannish Boys and Fabuloco, and Kid Andersen, a much-lauded Blues Music Award winning guitarist.


On Saturday and Sunday, there will be blues at each stage at various times of the day.  Confirmed so far for Saturday are local favorites Robin Henkel, Stoney B Blues Band, Sharifa & the Good Thing, and the blues headliners of the day, Johhny Vernazza and The Chicago Blues Royalty Review, featuring legendary musicians Corky Siegel, Sam Lay, Barry Goldberg, Marcy Levy (aka Marcella Detroit).

Sunday is looking super hot, as well!  Do your soul right with The Gospel According to Missy Andersen at 1:40 on the Mardi Gras Stage, and catch Bubba McCoy, Len Rainey, and more local blues bands throughout the day.

At 4:40, Chicago sound is in the house again as Wayne Baker Brooks graces the Festival Stage with his electrified blues and contemporary style. The son of Lonnie Brooks, he accompanied his father as soon as he was old enough to play the guitar and has headed his own band for 17 + years, with an album, EP’s, and singles for his own label Blues Island Records.

Keep checking here for additions to the schedule, and see how good it can be to be blue.

Blue Largo: Swingin’ Blues (And a Special Guest!)

Guitarist Eric Lieberman and vocalist Alicia Aragon are the core of San Diego’s Blue Largo, specializing in hard swinging 1940’s / ’50’s jump blues in the vein of Louis Jordan, T-Bone Walker, Johnny Otis, Julia Lee, Ruth Brown, and Dinah Washington. They can also pay sincere tribute to the likes of Billie Holiday or The Nat King Cole Trio with equal conviction, .performing with an unshakeable passion that audiences immediately pick up on.

Joining Blue Largo will be a very special guest, (sorry, we can’t name him yet, but you’ll be as excited as we are!), a former San Diego Blues singer/songwriter icon whose original songs have been covered by such blues legends as Etta James, Solomon Burke, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Tom Jones. He has won four San Diego Music Awards and has released 14 albums. Figured it out yet?  Catch Blue Largo on Friday evening, and be prepared to be thrilled.

Gator Gets Lucky with Steve Lucky and the Rhumba Bums

In case you haven’t noticed (been sleeping under a rock, have you?) there has been a huge revival in swing music in recent years, and Steve Lucky and the Rhumba Bums, featuring Miss Carmen Getit, have been at the forefront, performing jump blues, swing, jazz and rare gems inspired by the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s in their own inimitable style.

At their best before a live audience—especially a live dancing audience!—the band brings an intense energy and sheer personal magnetism to the stage, exercising wit in a continuous battle of the sexes played out by husband and wife Lucky and Getit.

Raised in the Detroit area, Steve Lucky started playing piano at age eight and was playing and singing professionally by the time he was thirteen. In the 80’s, while a student in Ann Arobr, Lucky founded his own blues/swing band, which enjoyed huge popularity on the Midwest college circuit, and after moving to NYC in 1987 to play keyboards for Grammy award-winning guitarist and vocalist Johnny Clyde Copeland he became very active in the Greenwich Village music scene, and performed with a diverse group of musicians such as Joan Osborne and Blues Traveller.

In 1993, Steve Lucky moved to San Francisco and started The Rhumba Bums, and the band really started taking off in ‘94 with the addition of Miss Carmen Getit on vocals and guitar.

Carmen’s powerful vocals call to mind the influences of her idols Ruth Brown, Etta James, and Dinah Washington.  She began plucking out melodies on the piano before she learned to read, and at age ten Carmen began singing and playing acoustic guitar with a group of girl guitarists at her local church. Over fifteen years later Steve Lucky bought her an electric guitar and turned her on to early blues and jazz. She has performed and recorded with Elvin Bishop, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, and piano blues legend Pinetop Perkinsand is featured in productions like “Queens of Boogie Woogie”, “Women In Blues” and “Divas of the Blues”.

Steve Lucky and the Rhumba Bums, featuring Miss Carmen Getit will play on the Bourbon Street Stage on Saturday afternoon, and Steve Lucky will join Sue Palmer and Deanna Bogart on Sunday in a Six-Hand Boogie Woogie Piano Extravaganza, while Carmen Getit will also appear with Sue Palmer’s Ladies Shoes Blues Review on Saturday afternoon on the Mardi Gras Stage.

For a taste of the exciting talent and energy that is Steve Lucky and the Rhumba Bums, featuring Miss Carmen Getit, check out this video!

“Johnny V” Vernazza—With a Little Help From His Friends

Multiple Gold recording artist Johnny Vernazza’s blues and slide guitar history is right out of the dynamic San Francisco Bay Area scene of the 1960s, a hotbed of fantastic music, especially the West Coast and Southern Blues genres.  Playing with such greats as Luther Tucker and Sunnyland Slim, Johnny V was asked by Elvin Bishop to join a new band he was putting together, and this association led to six albums, endless touring and the #3 song in the nation in 1974 : “Fooled Around and Fell in Love“. That record turned Gold as did an LP with The Marshall Tucker Band that featured Johnny and Elvin on slide guitar.

These days, San Diego is fortunate to call Johnny V one of our own, playing with his own band as well as appearing with numerous visiting greats.  He seems to know everyone worth knowing in the blues scene, and has put together some fantastic collaborations for Gator By the Bay in the past, appearing on our stages with Elvin Bishop, Maria Muldaur, Lazy Lester and others.  This year, The Johnny Vernazza Project, playing the Festival Stage on Saturday afternoon, will feature a one-time-only combination of  legendary “Southern Blues” talents from Johnny and his friends:  harmonica player Mark Hummel, slide guitarist Nick Gravenites, and saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Deanna Bogart.  You can bet that Festival Stage will be rocking!!!!!

Bill Magee Blues Band

Bill MageeGator By The Bay is thrilled to announce the addition of the Bill Magee Blues Band to our 2013 lineup. No matter how much crawfish and dancing fun you have scheduled at the fest you absolutely must make it a top priority to see the renown Bill Maggee Blues Band perform on Saturday May 11, 2013. Quite simply, you will not be disappointed.

Born in Collins, the backwoods of Mississippi in 1943, Willie (Bill) Magee grew up listening to and living the Blues. Orphaned as a teenager Bill was uprooted from his home in Mississippi to live with his brother in a one room flat in Harlem, New York. It was during this transitional time in Bills life that he discovered his love and natural born talent as a musician. While Bill’s musical start may have began slow in the beginning with him scrimping and saving for his first guitar that cost $29.99, by the late 60s his career was in full acceleration and since then he was had worked with many legendary artists including but (nearly) limited to: Jimi Hendrix, BB King, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Otis Redding, and Bo Diddley.  Fast forward through the amazing years of travel and tours to the late 80s when Bill landed in sunny San Diego.  To date Bill has grown to be a San Diego staple in the local and international music scene and has consistently mesmerized us again and again with his timeless and soulful blues. It goes without saying that it is with amazing honor that we welcome the Bill Magee Blues Band to Gator By The Bay 2013.

Stay tuned for more of our daily Gator By The Bay 2013 lineup updates, news and happenings!