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Friday, August 1, 2008

Bob Corritore Blues News

July 31, 2008

Friday began with a luncheon sponsored by Hennessy at Château de Bagnolet (originally the home of the Hennessy family, which can also be viewed by going to the Hennessy website and viewing the "Our House" section), a beautiful walled mansion surrounded by miles of sculptured trees with a perfectly manicured grassy lawn and tranquil lake. We shared a wonderful meal with Bobby Rush, Mary Flower, Washboard Chaz, Michel Rolland, plus other festival organizers, and Isabelle Decitre, International Marketing and Communications Director of Hennessy. I had brought some copies of a photo I took of my late friend Robert Lockwood, Jr. holding up a Hennessy bottle, and gave them away as gifts. Then it was off to the sound check for our first show, which took place in the courtyard of a beautiful historic building, now a showroom and facility for Camus Cognac. After our sound check, we were given an in-depth tour explaining the age-old process of the manufacturing and storage of Cognac. This tour ended with each of us creating our own custom cognac blend, which was bottled, corked, sealed, labeled, boxed, and given to us as a gift. We then gave our first appearance to a packed courtyard filled with a loving and enthusiastic audience, which included many of our European friends and advocates. Dave was at his rowdy best, and our set included Dave's originals mixed with some Frank Frost and John Weston songs. Dave had a new audience participation song called "I Don't Know", which was a big hit. After the show, we greeted our friends, signed autographs, and took photos, before we were driven to the festival hospitality tent for a nice dinner. We then enjoyed an excellent set on the main stage by Joan Baez while hanging out at the Hennessy VIP area with our driver Eric and Willie King and his band.

The next day (Saturday) began with conversation in the hotel restaurant with Elmore James, Jr., Cadillac Zack, Rick Reed, Bill Bates, and Steve Mugalian. After a quick lunch at the festival hospitality area, we went to Saturday's venue, the Château de Cognac, now affiliated with Otard Cognac but also once the ancestral Court of François 1er, King of France 1515-1547. Before our performance, blues DJ Xavier Boulanger gave a speech, then called me up to the stage where he declared me a "Membre d'Honneur et Parrain du CRBLUES" and presented me with a beautiful award trophy. CRBLUES stands for the French Blues Radio Collective, and it was so special to be honored by this great organization. To read about this award and see a photo of Xav and I holding the award, click here. Then Dave and I gave a great performance that I must give Dave the credit for. He was simply at the top of his game! Since it was in an echo-filled stone chamber (the State Room), we played at a whisper, and the packed house hung on every note. To see a video tour of this venue with performances by Willie King on the day before our performance, click here. After the show, we hung out with our friends and fans, before being taken to an interview area where Dave and I were individually interviewed by David Baerst of the blues radio show Route 66. Then all the bands that were free at that time went to an amazing dinner party hosted by Hennessy in the courtyard of another beautiful château, called Château Batailley. This party was a unique mixture of blues musicians, Hennessy executives (including the very gracious CEO Bernard Peillon), CNN personnel, and Craig Stapleton, the US Ambassador to France, complete with an entourage of secret service agents. Of course, the very finest vintage XO Hennessy Cognac and vintage French wines were served. The extravagant meal included a wide array of wonderful food including canapés of tuna sushi, steak, mushroom pastry, pâté de foie gras, and other morsels, Gazpacho soup, scrambled eggs with truffles, salad de fines herbes with assorted Mediterranean olives, gravadlox and sliced fishes, assorted Kebabs, crusty French breads, a smorgasbord of aged French cheeses, coffee, apple tarte, chocolate torte, tiramisu, berry tartes, plus numerous other dishes; though Dave Riley stuck with (you guessed it) the steak.

Dale and Dave left the next Morning but Kim and I scheduled an extra day to relax a little. We went to the festival for a few hours, and enjoyed the company of our dear friend Jocelyn Richez and Jean Guillermo of Blues sur Seine, as well as Gary Erwin, Simon Boyer, and Brian Slack of Zeb Productions. We called it early to have some time to pack and rest before leaving an amazing town and dream-like trip. We must mention some of our friends not previously noted that we saw in Cognac (sorry if we are forgetting anyone) Marcel Benedit of ABS Magazine (and his lovely wife), André and Lil Hobus (Soul Bag Magazine), Blues DJ Ben Buijs Boue (who was also a driver for the festival), Shanna Waterstown and her manager Christophe Litvine, Elizabeth Levanier (Blues en Loire Festival), Francis Rateau (Crossroads Magazine), Marc Loison, Alain Enjalbert of Radio Terre Marine FM, Jean-Pierre Savouyaud of Virus De Blues (thanks for the issue!), Luc and Annie Drouffe-Noe, Marc Loison of, Joel Bizon, Christian Boncour of Blues Station, Didier Marty, Luc Ghyselen of Blues Promotion, Thibaux Chopin, Claude Dannic, Maria Giulia Sorrentino (our dear friend who runs the Marco Fiume Memorial Blues Passions Festival in honor of her late son), André Cochepin-Mingarro, and others.

Check out a beautiful slide show of photos from the Cognac Blues Passions Festival by Jean-Pierre Savouyaud of Virus De Blues (click here to view). Also, some nice shots by Fannybluesrock on her MySpace (click here to view).

A heartfelt "Thank You" to all who provided for and shared in these wonderful experiences!

-Bob Corritore

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