ANTIOCH -- With the rushing deep-channel waters of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta as its backdrop, the Delta Blues Festival will once again bring harmonies, harmonicas and soulful lyrics to the Antioch's downtown Walde Plaza this weekend.

Saturday's free event feature a wide array of blues music, including an evening of soulful lead vocal performance from Rick Estrin and the Nightcats, as well as rockin' guitar playing by Gregg Wright, whose past performance include tours and albums with Michael Jackson and Mick Fleetwood.

"We are really excited to present some fabulous showmen this year," said Frank Giovanni, the festival's producer.

Rick Estrin and the Nightcats will perform at 6:30 p.m. at Saturday’s Delta Blues festival in Antioch.
Rick Estrin and the Nightcats will perform at 6:30 p.m. at Saturday's Delta Blues festival in Antioch.

The Delta Blue Festival began in 1999 as a dream by local resident Dave Williamson with the idea to make a family event centered on his love of blues music. The first festival and the ones ever since have been a success. When Williamson died in a car accident in 2003, the group continued to present the festival in his honor.

In Williamson's memory, a scholarship fund was started with proceeds from the annual festival and is offered to a student of an Antioch high school who seeks an education in music. Nomination applications to the scholarship fund can be found on the Delta Blues Festival's website.

The Delta Blues Festival remains a family event that features music, vendors, food and is completely alcohol free. There is no admission fee to the festival. To help pay for the event, a benefit concert was held in February.

"Hosting the benefit event at the El Campanil Theatre and having that be a success has really been a big help to making the Delta Blues Festival that much better," Giovanni said.

Giovanni said he is really excited about this year's lineup of musicians. The event begins Saturday at noon with international favorite Kyle Jester Blues Show, which has performed both in Europe and the United States. At 1 p.m. international blues circuit performer Tia Carroll will be performing her soulful blues music.

At 2 p.m. the festival will feature Zydeco Flames. With the release of its sixth CD, Zydeco Flames has quickly gained popularity with its traditional zydeco sound.

Rounding out the rest of the afternoon are three top blues bands that offer a variety of blues sounds that feature harmonicas, guitars and soulful R&B with gospel roots. At 3:30 p.m. the Ricky Earl Band Featuring Cherise shows off their soulful blues sound. Both performers have roots in a gospel sound but also offer soul, funk and R&B influences in their performances.

At 4:45 p.m. Gregg Wright takes the stage.

"Gregg and his guitar are just great and you can really see how he got to play music with Michael Jackson," Giovanni said.

The final act of the night is at 6:15 is Rick Estrin and the Nightcats. Estrin is the winner of the Blues Foundation's "Blues Music Award for Best Harmonica Player" this year. The award was given out in blues capital, Memphis, Tenn.

Giovanni said that he recommends people come to Waldie Plaza early to claim their spots. "Bring along blankets and chairs to be comfortable," he said.

If you go
What: Delta Blues Festival
When: Noon to 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Downtown Antioch at Waldie Plaza on Second Street
Info: 925-698-8024 or www.deltabluesfestival.net
Cost: free