The Times West Virginian

Ticket

July 12, 2012

Johnnie Johnson Festival this weekend

FAIRMONT — Many likely remember Johnnie Johnson as an accomplished musician, but for Bill Stalnaker, he was much more than that.

“We were actually in an interview one time and they asked him about our friendship and he said, ‘Oh, this goes beyond friendship,’” Stalnaker, also a musician, said. “He said, ‘We’re family. He’s my son.’ I carry that pretty proudly and with a whole lot of humility because he was a pretty special guy.”

Among his many honors during his solo career, Johnson was nominated for a Grammy Award, was recognized as a National Treasure and Father of Rock and Roll by the U.S. Congress, and received the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. During the last decade of Johnson’s life, Stalnaker had the privilege of working with him and eventually starting a festival in his honor. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, Johnson also had quite the homecoming when he came back to Fairmont for the inaugural Johnnie Johnson Festival.

Now in its 11th year, the festival will be held at Palatine Park this weekend. Weekend passes may be purchased in advance for $25 at one of the following locations: Cashland Pawn, Fawley Music, Travel Emporium or Rider Pharmacy, or at the gate for $30. Tickets for one day are also available.

Throughout the weekend, a lineup of musicians will perform to honor the late musician. Groups such as Roddy Barnes, KWT Blues Band, Paul Geremia, and Satan and Adam will take the stage beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, with a special tribute scheduled for 10 p.m. that day.

“The music is the most important because Johnnie was music,” Stalnaker said.

Music will resume at noon Saturday and at 11 a.m. Sunday, and in addition to music, the festival will have special, personalized events for the audience.

On Saturday, published author and musician Adam Gussow will host a harmonica clinic from 10:30 a.m. to noon. As a musician in the band Satan and Adam, Gussow also serves on the Mississippi State faculty.

As founder and president of the Johnnie Johnson Blues & Jazz Society Inc., Stalnaker was dedicated to honoring Johnson in any way he could in the community where he grew up.

“People met him and they didn’t forget him,” Stalnaker said. “He was a class act, and Johnnie deserves to have recognition here at home.”

Musicians who are performing this weekend share the same thoughts, as many of them are traveling great distances to appear in Fairmont, including Satan and Adam.

For the first time in its 11-year history, Gussow will be participating and performing in the festival, which he said is quite an honor.

“I saw Johnnie Johnson a number of years ago in New York and got to jam with him, so it’s an honor to be in the festival for that reason,” Gussow said. “It’s also a really exciting thing for me personally because it’s the first time in years that my guitar man Sterling Magee and I will be together for three days. We don’t get to play together much these days, so it’s a rare occasion.”

Appearing in a YouTube documentary, the band is at “rockstar status” so to speak, and Stalnaker is thrilled they have confirmed their visit to Fairmont.

“I hope people take the time to come out and see these guys because they’re a really true original American act,” he said.

Prominent bands like DelGrosso Del Toro Richardson out of Austin, Texas, who were up for at least five music awards this year, will also be making the journey to Fairmont for the festival, along with other acts like Daryl Davis.

“As always, we try to put on the best of entertainment in Fairmont because Johnnie was a class act, and we want to keep it that way,” Stalnaker said. “We try to bring the best of the best in here, and I think we accomplished that again this year.”

Following the music, an after-hour jams get-together will be held at the River City Grille on Friday and Saturday night.

A number of vendors for wine, soft drinks, ribs, ice cream and more will be on site, and there will be special entertainment, including a bounce house, for children.

All in the name of Johnson, the festival is one Stalnaker looks forward to every year. Reflecting on memories with him, Stalnaker recalled how much his dear friend valued his roots and the hometown that embraced him. And after not performing in Fairmont for almost 60 years, it was a special day when he performed here in 2001.

“He knew he was very blessed to come from a town like Fairmont and still have those relationships with the people back here,” Stalnaker said. “He hadn’t played here in probably 60 years, so it was quite a homecoming for him.”

And for such an accomplished musician, a man who didn’t have a bitter bone in his body, it was a day he would cherish.

“He said that was always his big dream — to come back to Fairmont and play, bring his band back and play for the people here in his hometown. He said, ‘You know, the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame was nice, but man, this is the cherry on top to do this.’”

More information can be found on the Johnnie Johnson Blues & Jazz Society Inc. website at www.johnniejohnsonbluesandjazz.com.

Email Nicole Lemal at nlemal@timeswv.com.

1
Text Only
Ticket
  • ‘Guardians’ powered by love of raccoons and space opera

    About midway through Marvel’s new interstellar adventure “Guardians of the Galaxy,” David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” plays over a shot of a ramshackle spaceship traveling toward a mining colony called Knowhere.
    The planet is actually the severed head of a fallen titan (or deity) where workers of alien races, some with candy-colored skin, collect valuable bone and fluid to ship to the outer reaches of the cosmos.

    July 31, 2014

  • Morgantown revving up for MountainFest

    Around 60,000 guests will flood into the Morgantown area July 23-27 for the 10th anniversary of MountainFest.
    The motorcycle-themed event will offer live music from two stages, two stunt team demonstrations, a vintage car show, custom bike builders, and around 80 vendors that offer motorcycle memorabilia, clothing, crafts and 14 different food options.

    July 24, 2014

  • Keaton clicks with Douglas, ‘And So It Goes’

    Two old pros show the kids how chemistry works in a romantic comedy in “And So It Goes,” a love-the-last-time-around romp that’ll give its target audience the warm fuzzies.
    Diane Keaton dons one stylishly kicky outfit after another — hats included — trills “La di dah,” or words to that effect, and all is well in this high-rent corner of Connecticut, where the perfectly-coiffed Michael Douglas plays her permanently grumpy Realtor neighbor.

    July 24, 2014

  • Some ‘Abbey’ details to tide you over

    American viewers are still a ways off from having the upstairs-downstairs bunch of “Downton Abbey” over as guests in their homes through the telly, but we have some crumpets of information to hold you over before then.
    Executive producer Gareth Neame and cast members Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Allen Leech and Joanne Froggatt appeared before reporters as part of PBS’ session at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills.

    July 24, 2014

  • Kids Day Facepainting.jpg Kids Day is Saturday in Morgantown

    On Saturday, a portion of High Street in Morgantown will be closed to traffic to make room for all the kids.
    This year’s Kids Day will feature more than 100 activities, including an interactive butterfly exhibit, bounce houses, sand art stations, a model railroad display and much more.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ‘The Strain’ offers more gore than story

    At the same time “The Strain” was in development, a commercial in heavy rotation showed three catty middle-schoolers stalking a chubby guy on a diet. Whenever he contemplated a calorie-drenched monstrosity, they’d pipe in with a rapid-fire “Ew!” “Seriously?” “So gross ...”

    July 17, 2014

  • Brooks’ Dublin concerts off; refunds begin

    It’s crying time on the Emerald Isle: Country music superstar Garth Brooks issued a statement Monday confirming that his five planned concerts in Dublin next week are scrapped, and that ticket refunds for 400,000 ticket buyers will proceed.

    July 17, 2014

  • Helping the United Way ... the musical way

    Heston Farm Winery and the United Way of Marion County have teamed up for the third year for the Heston Arts and Music Festival.
    While the HAM Festival has little to do with meat — although there will be a few ham-themed food options, including “hog wings” — it has a lot to do with the community.

    July 10, 2014

  • Go ‘Red, White & Boom!’ July 4

    Palatine Park will be full of people and patriotism Friday during Fairmont’s “Red, White & Boom!” celebration.
    Gates open at 3:30 p.m. and festivities start at 4:15 p.m. with Mama Corn, a bluegrass band from Pennsylvania.
    The Marshall Lowry Band, a country and bluegrass trio with members from Fairmont, will take the stage at 5:30 p.m., and country rock singer Katie Ohh will follow at 7 p.m.

    July 3, 2014

  • The Father of Rock ’n’ Roll

    Next weekend, musicians will come to Fairmont to pay tribute to a man considered the father of rock ’n’ roll piano.
    The 13th annual Johnnie Johnson Blues & Jazz Festival will be held July 5-6 at Palatine Park.
    A Fairmont native, Johnson taught himself to play piano, and his talent led him into a partnership with musician Chuck Berry — Johnson wrote the music for more than 60 Chuck Berry songs but did not receive writing credits.

    June 26, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Lifestyles
House Ads