FAIRFIELD — More than 50 blues artists are expected Sunday at Winterhawk Winery for the Blues in the Vineyard fundraiser.
Among them will be Ron Thompson, who spent many years touring with John Lee Hooker. He’s also worked with Etta James, Tina Turner and B.B. King.
It’s hard for Thompson to pin down an artist he hasn’t play with yet, but would like to. Thompson would be happy to work with King again, he said.
Ronnie Stewart of the Bay Area Blues Society convinced him to be part of the Sunday event, which will raise money for Blues in the Schools. He’ll play with Stewart’s band.
Thompson had his 1959 Gibson guitar stolen from his car last fall. It had been with him since he was 18.
“They are hard to come by now,” he said of the guitar. “They used to be easy to get back then.”
A fellow musician, Rob Zolezzi, worked with pawn shops to track it down.
Thompson still plays it today. The sound and tone are the best, he said.
His sister introduced him to the blues by playing her Jimmy Reed records.
“I liked her taste,” he said.
He later shared the stage with Reed, who died almost 40 years ago.
Thompson is working a new CD that will feature some gospel music mixed in with the blues. He said the two genres are closely related, since both required a lot of emotion to sing.
He is also mentoring young blues guitarist named Tre Tosh, which gives him a sample of how blues fits into today’s music.
“It’s amazing so many young people want to play it,” he said. “When young people want to hear it, it’s a good sign.”
Working with Tosh is the least Thompson feels he can do after so many people helped him early on. He said everyone has something to offer the world, sometimes they just need to be shown what it is.
Playing music isn’t like work for him.
“The only thing I consider a job is getting there (to a venue),” he said. The Hayward resident drives himself to gigs up and down the West Coast.
In addition to his notable guitar skills, Thompson also plays the harmonica, mandolin and keyboards
Thompson began his career in San Francisco Bay nightclubs and bars in the early 1970s. After serving as Hooker’s bandleader for seven years, he formed his own group, Ron Thompson and His Resisters.
His awards include two Bay Area Music Awards, the Colorado Blues Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and induction into the Blues Hall of Fame. Thompson’s “Resistor Twister” album was nominated for a Grammy in 1987.
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