Big Mac Bluesman

Hayward-Russell City Blues Festival this weekend.

It’s rumored that Mississippi-born stride pianist Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins — who’s oft-credited for popularizing the left-hand-smacks-a-bassline-
while-right-hand-plays-a-fancy-horn-lick technique — still favors a carbo-loaded, trans-fatty fast-food feast any time he can get one. Specifically, says Bay Area Blues Society executive director Ronnie Perkins, his diet comprises two Big Macs with cheese, an order of biggie fries, two apple pies, and a large Coke. But before you start gagging, consider how many calories it must take to fuel the fingers that once anchored Muddy Waters’ blues band — thousands, apparently, because even on his diet, 94-year-old Perkins manages to stay thin as a rail. More importantly, the famed bluesman is still swingin’. He’ll celebrate his birthday at this weekend’s Hayward-Russell City Blues Festival, which marks its eighth year with a “From Chicago to Russell City” theme. He’ll be joined by John Primer — another emeritus of the Muddy Waters rhythm section — and other performers with names nearly as splashy as their careers, including Nelly Tiger Travis, Willie Big Eye Smith, and Big Time Sarah. The show runs Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Hayward City Hall Plaza. $15 in advance, $20 at the door, or $30 for a two-day pass.


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