ANTIOCH -- Come March 1, the ornate El Campanil Theatre will raise its roof with the sounds of Delta Blues, featuring Chris Cain, the Cash Box Kings and Frankie G and the Conviction. Once again, the community will be out in force to celebrate a great night of blues and contribute to the Delta Blues Festival in September.
The benefit concert got its start in 2010 and has gained in popularity with each year.
"What we realized is that there is a huge love of live music, especially live blues, in the community and there was enough that people enjoyed an indoor concert as well," said Frank Giovanni, festival organizer. "We decided to make it an annual event."
For the past 15 years, residents of Antioch and neighboring communities have enjoyed a great day of family entertainment at the Delta Blues Festival, a full-blown music festival presented entirely free to all participants. This is a tradition Giovanni is determined to continue.
"We have no hidden agenda; we're 100-percent focused on the community. Antioch gets a lot of bad press and when you see people come to our event and get along, be nice to each other, dance with one another and let their kids frolic down by the waterfront, it's really rewarding," he said. "This will be our 16th year and we intend to never charge for this event; we always want to keep it free."
All proceeds from the concert, 100-percent, go toward the festival. These proceeds along with sponsorship from local organizations and businesses ensure that the festival remains a nonalcoholic, free, family event.
Tickets for the benefit concert are selling fast and Giovanni urges those interested in attending to reserve their seats for an evening that will showcase local blues talent, some professional, some new-to-the-scene and some national professionals. Whoever is on stage, the music will have concert goers out of their seats and in the aisles.
"If people can sit for long, I'll be surprised," he said.
Chris Cain is a prominent, prolific, passionate performer who has played with acts like Etta James and Tower of Power. Joining Cain, a man who "lives, breathes and sweats his music," will be Antioch resident Nick Mestek playing drums.
"Chris Cain is so eclectic that he plays a straight-driven-from-the-heart-style of electric blues with a kiss of jazz," Giovanni said. "Chris intertwines blues and jazz effortlessly and sometimes unrecognizably."
The Cash Box Kings are an up-and-coming Chicago Blues band, featuring Steve Freund, a local guitarist from Chicago who has played with many great blues players of old time. The band and their latest release have been receiving much airplay, recognition and blues awards of late.
"They're one of those acts representing true Chicago blues with harmonica, guitar and bass drums. It's really cool to have them," he said.
The local blues representative is Frankie G and the Conviction, a high- energy blues band featuring Kathy Tecjka, Mac Akin and D'Mar, who has been Little Richard's drummer for the past 18 years. As a preview for September's Delta Blues Festival, Pittsburg couple Teresa and Louis Jones, the festival's opening act, will sit in and play one song with the Conviction.
Giovanni stresses that attending this concert in your own hometown is a great way to lend your support so the festival can proceed as planned in September. He is also looking for local organizations to act as sponsors, as well as individuals who wish to make a donation.
Though Giovanni, as festival organizer and also Frankie G, may be viewed as somewhat biased, it's hard to ignore his passion and enthusiasm for the concert and festival. He describes the concert as "not to be missed" and offers up a testimonial.
"My wife and I purchased tickets for the concert and all the people who volunteer at the festival purchased their own tickets, not under my direction; they're doing it on their own," he said. "What does that say? That tells me that I'm not stopping, I'm going to deliver this to the city every year!"
What: Delta Blues Festival Benefit Concert
When: 7 p.m. March 1
Where: El Campanil Theatre, 602 W. Second St., Antioch
Info: 925-757-9500 or www.elcampaniltheatre.com
COST: $30-$40 adults, $28 seniors, $15 ages 7-17; Donations for the Delta Blues Festival can be made through the website www.deltabluesfestival.net.