Blues festival ambassador thrilled to return

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Cotton to perform Saturday ahead of the Blues Brothers

Harmonica legend James Cotton will be back on the Dutch Mason Blues Festival stage Saturday. Cotton, who has been with the festival for seven years and is known as festival ambassador, released a new album – Cotton Mouth Man – back in May. 

BIBLE HILL - With a new album under his belt, the Dutch Mason Blues Festival ambassador can't wait to come back.

"I've been with the festival for seven years and I'm looking forward to coming back," said James Cotton, 78, who will be taking the stage at the blues festival on Saturday. "Everybody there is going to have a good time."

Cotton started playing the blues when he was nine years old and no matter where he goes there's only one thing he makes sure of.

"When I see people happy, it makes me happy. When I see people in the crowd having a good time, it makes me happy," he said.

"I like to see happy people wherever I'm at. To me, I love the crowd and to see happy people. I do my best to keep them happy wherever I go."

Released early in May, Cotton's album, Cotton Mouth Man, showcases 11 fresh new songs, including ‘Bonnie Blue,' which features a Cotton vocal performance, a rarity since a diagnosis of throat cancer.

"It will be the first time the Dutch Mason crowd will hear some of those songs," said Cotton, who just returned from promoting the album on a tour in Brazil and Argentina, playing numerous festivals.

A number of Cotton's old friends came together to join the harmonica master on the album, including Gregg Allman, Joe Bonamassa, Ruthie Foster, Delbert McClinton, Chuck Leavell and Colin Linden. Nashville's Tom Hambridge produced the album, which is Cotton's first since his Grammy-nominated album ‘Giant' was released in 2010.

The tracks were inspired by his colourful experiences and memories of the Mississippi Delta, Memphis, Chicago, Sun Records, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Muddy Waters.

"I feel so happy about the music in this album," Cotton is quoted as saying on his website, "The blues is all about feeling - if I don't feel it, I can't play it. My hope is that everyone who listens, feels it. I know I sure did."

With Cotton on the festival's schedule for 8:45 p.m. Saturday, he'll be followed by the Blues Brothers at 10:30 p.m.

"I've seen them before, and I might even play a little with them," said Cotton.

Playing the blues for 69 years, Cotton said it really is the people that have kept him going.

"I'll keep going as long as I can, I guess," he said.

The musician has recorded almost 30 solo albums over the span of his career and has won a long list of awards and accolades. He's been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, has picked up a Grammy award, with four nominations, and seven Blues Music Awards. One of his own harmonicas has been added to a permanent collection at the Smithsonian Institution.

Twitter: @TDNRaissa


Organizations: Blues Brothers, Sun Records, Smithsonian Institution

Geographic location: Brazil, Argentina, Nashville Memphis Chicago

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