Michael John is passionate about the blues. “The blues is America’s music. Everything comes from the blues, any of the rock, all the music you hear—–the foundation is all blues music”. Coming up on Saturday, April 25th, the 10th Annual Ventura County Blues Festival will showcase the best in local and national blues musicians, headlined by blues guitarist extraordinaire Coco Montoya, a veteran of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Albert Collins’ blues band before going solo. To celebrate their 10th year, Coco, who headlined the very first Ventura County Blues Festival, is returning to anchor the day. Also performing are the Delgado Brothers, BB Chung King and the Buddaheads, John Nemeth, Deanna Bogart and many more artists. There is so much music in fact this year that the event is being spread over two stages.
Michael John knows the blues. As President of the Ventura County Blues Society and founder of the festival, the music is an important part of his life. “I think it’s important not only to keep the blues alive, but to let the younger generation know about the blues. Let them realize and see that the blues is not a boring type of music. It’s all about your soul, it’s all about feeling good with a lot of strong energy. With the lineup of mainly contemporary blues that we have, it is definitely high energy and not boring”, Michael said.
Michael spoke about the festival’s headliner, Coco Montoya. “I’ve known Coco since I was about six years old”, he said. “We were neighbors and he was really good friends with my older brother. Through the years, I’ve watched his career unfold into this thing which I knew was going to go this way for him. Playing with Albert Collins and playing with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers for years, doing his solo career. The man is in Europe currently on a world tour and I am so thankful that we have been such good friends throughout the years that he recognizes what the Ventura County Blues Society does, not only for the music and the genre but for the community. Coco is definitely ranked in the Top 10 of bluesmen in the world. The man has serious, serious chops.There’s no question about it!”.
Michael stressed that the Ventura County Blues Festival is a charity event, with all work being done by volunteers. Proceeds of the event will go to the American Cancer Society as well as local charities. One of the charity events for the festival is a special bike run to benefit actor, musician and local legend Mickey Jones. Mickey first came to fame as the drummer for Trini Lopez, Johnny Rivers, Bob Dylan and Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, later leaving music to concentrate on a career as an actor in such varied TV shows and films as Married with Children, Northern Exposure, Starman and Tin Cup. “Mickey has been with us from the very beginning, the very first blues festival. He’s family, we go way, way back. He’s had some medical issues where he needs help. He’s like any one else who has medical insurance, sometimes there’s a lot of restrictions involved and those restrictions can actually drain you financially. Mickey needs our help”, Michael said.
The bike run will start in various areas, with all runs finishing at the festival. Bike riders can sign up online, with the fee being $52.00 for the Mickey Jones Ride. “The fee gets you a really cool riding pin with Mickey’s face on it and the festival logo, a wristband, bike parking and festival entrance”, Michael added. “All the proceeds from the bike ride will be going to Mickey to help him in his time of need. Mickey has done so many charity events across the U.S. in the past, events such as the CHOC Ride, for the Children’s Hospital Orange County. I’ve been at that event, with hundreds and hundreds of bikes, and Mickey leading the pack”. Michael wants to see five or six hundred bikes show up for Mickey. There will also be donation boxes throughout the festival for Mickey to be used by those who didn’t go on the ride. They will be clearly marked for Mickey and 100% of that will go to Mickey as well. Michael emphasized that to get all the perks like the riding pin, riders must go to the Ventura County Blues Festival to register ahead of time.
Of course, none of the Ventura County Blues Festivals would be complete without the day being opened by Michael John’s own group, Michael John and the Bottom Line. Playing lead and rhythm guitar in the band is his son, ‘Mikey Mo’. When asked what it is like to have the next generation, especially his son, playing in the band, Michael replied, “It’s amazing. Absolutely amazing. It’s really hard to describe the feeling. Obviously, as a dad, you’re proud. But it’s not like “Hey, I’m gonna put my kid here to play’, he actually earned that spot of being the lead guitar player in the band. I think he’s such a phenomenal player and doing his own thing. I get choked every time I introduce him on stage! He went on a tour with Coco Montoya and Coco brought him up at every show. He was Coco’s guitar tech, but he was also the second guitar for every single show. When he came back from that tour, to hear him play, it was like night and day”. This year, Michael is doing something a little bit different, forming a group called the VCBS Allstars to play at the festival. It will feature musician from his band as well as other local musicians from groups such as the Ska Daddyz. With a lot of good local musicians it will be a great set.
The 10th Annual Ventura County Blues Festival will also have plenty of food, arts and crafts vendors. Of note, Michael John’s son Charles, or ‘Mikey Mo’ as he’s commonly known, will have his catering company serving some delicious barbeque at their ‘Mikey Mo and Sons’ booth. “With his family including his grandsons participating, Michael said that “This festival is a family-friendly festival. You can bring your children and not have to worry about any craziness going on. The crowd at our blues shows is just a mellow crowd, so bring your low-backed chairs, come for a good time and leave your troubles at the gate!”.
10th Annual Ventura County Blues Festival
Saturday, April 25, 2015
10:00am to 7:30pm
7075 Campus Road
Moorpark, CA 93021
For tickets and ride info: