There will be no San Francisco Blues Festival this year, it says here . The country's longest continuous Blues fest will probably never come back, according to founder Tom Mazzolini. He cites the usual problems--growing difficulty selling tickets and attracting sponsors.
But what really struck me was Mazzolini's difficulty in attracting the well-known headliners necessary to draw huge crowds. I lived in SF from 1976 to 1995 and went to the fest many times. I saw BB King, Buddy Guy, Hooker, Ruth Brown, Otis Rush, so many. I don't know if it's changed, but back then it didn't have the multiple stages so common at fests today. There was one stage. You found your spot on the ground and everyone watched the same show for two days. In my days there, Mazzolini never adopted the Jazz Fest approach of booking rock stars with no real blues cedibility. A quick look at the festival website suggests he's never done that.
Is blues such a weak draw nowadays that good young artists can't make an impact? How sad.