The Ben E. Bruner Sports Complex on Sun Valley Road will be the venue for the first annual Hip Swing’in Blues Festival Saturday, Aug. 10, rain or shine. Gates open at 3 p.m., with the show starting at 4 p.m. Tickets are $5 in advance, $15 at the gate and $5 for children younger than 12. Tickets are available at Tyrone’s, Rose’s, Exxon, the Knackatory and the Greater Talladega Area Chamber of Commerce.
The event is sponsored by Funzee, Citizens Baptist Medical Center, Brannon’s Office Supply, the Greater Talladega Area Chamber of Commerce and the Knackatory.
The festival will be hosted by “Big Ro,” aka Roland Williams, National Football League veteran and host of the Big Ro Show on ConnecTV.
Headliners will be DieDra the Blues Diva, SharBaby’s 11 O’Clock Blues, Debbie Bond and Kevin Moon. All four acts have roots in Alabama, with Moon being a Clay County native.
DieDra also has a Talladega connection in her capacity as co-owner of Ruff Pro Studios located on the northeastern corner of the historic Court House Square. The event is named in honor of her song “Hip Swingin’ Blues,” and will be the first of several similar events across the country, she told the Talladega Rotary Club Thursday.
A native of South Bend, Indiana, Sharbaby is currently based in Pensacola, Fla., but has a long history of playing festivals all over Alabama with a host of well-known blues artists. She was designated a Master Blues Player and inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2012. She is also a guitar teacher with the Alabama Blues Project, and a former member of the Big Fat Lie/Real Blues Band, which backed Chip “Naaman” Jones on two gold albums in the 1970s.
The Alabama Blues Project was founded by Bond, who still serves as executive director. Bonds’ blues synthesis has been compared to Bonnie Raitt and Maria Muldair, although she also has a distinctive voice of her own, including on songs she wrote herself. Bond has been playing the blues in Alabama for more than 30 years, and has backed legends including Johnny Shines and Willie King. Her most recent recording is “Hearts Are Wild” from 2011.
Unlike the other names on the bill, Moon is primarily a country artist. A native of Ashland, his traditional honky-tonk style has been compared to Keith Whitley, George Strait and Alan Jackson.
Audience members are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and coolers. For more information, please call 404-295-5364.