Talk about getting the right guy for the job.
For the second year, Sebastopol's annual Apple Blossom Festival is devoting one of its two days and one of its two stages to a blues festival.
The overall festival runs April 12-13, with the blues lineup running the second day, and the headliner this time is a big name in blues with a long Bay Area history.
Joe Louis Walker, born on Christmas Day in San Francisco almost 65 years ago, has been playing and singing the blues since 1965, working with many of the greats in not only blues, but rock, jazz and gospel music as well.
Last year, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis; and earlier this year, he came out with his 25th album, "Hornet's Nest," recorded in Nashville on the Alligator label.
"I've played all kinds of music, with everybody from Bobby Weir (Grateful Dead) to Johnny Winter, and from John Lee Hooker to Mississippi Fred McDowell," Walker said by phone from his New York home.
He has covered a wide range of blues styles, from his acoustic album, "Silvertone Blues," in 1999 to his two most recent releases, this year's "Hornet's Nest" and 2012's "Hellfire."
"'Hornet's Nest' and 'Hellfire' are guitar-based, with a harder rock edge, which I like," he said. "That's part of Joe Louis Walker."
But he remains deeply rooted in classic blues and soul music.
"I made two albums with B.B. King, a few with James Cotton, and I've worked with all kinds of people: G.E. Smith, T-Bone Walker, Memphis Horns, Tower of Power — you name it," Walker said.
He has played with jazz greats as well, including pianist Herbie Hancock and saxophonists Wayne Shorter and James Carter.
And who has had the most influence on his music?
"No one person," he answered. "I've played with so many different people. I grew up in San Francisco with the Fillmore Auditorium before, during and after the hippie invasion, so I'm sort of an amalgam of a lot of kinds of music."
Walker's current tour is taking him and his band all over the nation and the rest of the world.
"We just did the Midwest during that horrible storm," he said. "Then we went to Aberdeen, Scotland, for the jazz festival there. From there, we went to a jazz and blues festival in Switzerland. We just got home a few days ago."
Before heading off to Japan and France for shows, he'll be in Sebastopol for the Apple Blossom Festival as part of his West Coast swing.
Walker will play at 3 p.m. April 13, preceded by singer and guitarist Robert Thomas at noon and by blues and soul singer-songwriter Janiva Magness at 1:15 p.m.
There will be continuous live music both April 12 and 13 on two stages, both in Ives Park at Jewell Avenue and Willow Street in Sebastopol, said Teresa Ramondo, executive director of the Sebastopol Area Chamber of Commerce.
A traditional high point for locals is the Apple Blossom Festival Parade, starting south down Main Street from Analy High School at 10 a.m. April 12 and ending about noon at Calder Avenue.
(You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 521-5243 or email@example.com. See his ARTS blog at http://arts.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.)