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Arts and Entertainment

Photos: Roots and Blues in Long Beach

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For the 3rd installment in Summer and Music concert series, locals were treated to "Roots and Blues" music on the streets of Long Beach on Saturday. Pocket harp prodigy James Harman represented the "Blues" genre with a scathing set reminiscent of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Legendary local showman King Cotton represented the "Roots" portion of the festivities with his own brand of throwback funk that had the entire street bopping to the infectious grooves. Long Beach's own The Dibs got the crowd warmed up with their interpretation of folk roots music.

Americana Roots music--sometimes called Americana Folk, and used to describe everything from Bluegrass, to Appalachian folk, to moonshine jug bands--is a comingling of sounds that either originated or developed in the United States and served as the foundation for every kind of music from rock-n-roll to jazz. Roots music took the stage during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, when Americans were at their most raw, vulnerable moments.

Blues--if you've been living under a rock that doesn't roll--are the ever-evolving sounds and stories of the deep south, originating at the tail end of the 19th century and typically following distinctive chord progressions that can walk a man gently through heartache and woman through childbirth. In short, it's the only music in the world that will make you shake your head in sorrow and joy at the very same time.

James Harman, a self-defined full-service Bluesman since 1962. Originally from Anniston, Ala., Harman grew up with the likes of his father's Hohner harmonicas and at age 18 cut his first 45 RPM--a collection of singles that put him on the map, got the attention of the band Canned Heat, and eventually brought him to California. His own ensemble, The James Harman Band, has been graced by the likes of Phil Alvin and Bill Bateman, who went on to form The Blasters.

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Harman tours ferociously - playing in as many as 23 different countries in a season, his original songs have been featured in 17 movies, and he has been nominated for 19 W. C. Handy awards. His harmonica chops have been tested by the likes of ZZ Top and over the years have appeared on many well-known labels such as Enigma, Rhino, Black Top, Continental, Cannonball, Pacific Blues and Gulfcoast Records.

Another living Blues legend, showman and wit, King Cotton closed out the night with his band Cold As Ice. Cotton--an original member of the 1980s Los Angeles Worldbeatnick band The Bonedaddy's--has a commanding stage presence and character that warrant the title of King. He has even performed with the Blues God Bo Diddley. Cotton's sound takes on a roots-country vibe that commands respect and provokes fat-sided laughter all at once.

Opening the night, The Dibs, a Long Beach-based folk rock-roots band stacked with seven talented songwriters and instrumentalists--including Chris Hanlin, Brett Bixby, Mark Romans, Mark Jones, Chris Paul Overall, Rae Enrico and JR Rittermal--set the vibe. With music inspired by staples like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Credence Clearwater Revival, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and Led Zeppelin, The Dibs kicked off the night with some symphonic energy.

The Summer and Music series [Schedule] reaches full stride with TWO events scheduled for next weekend. "Swing Saturday" will take place in the same east villiage location where the "Future Legends" was held a few weeks ago, followed by Sunday's "Battle of the Tribute Bands" in the Rainbow Harbor band shell.