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T-Bone celebration: Back for a day in Linden

T-Bone celebration: Back for a day in Linden

October 11th, 2018 by Aaron Brand in Features

In this mug combo shows Whitey Johnson, left, Duke Robillard. The Linden Economic Development Corporation has organized a T-Bone Walker Day Fundraiser for Saturday, Oct. 20. Proceeds will go toward bringing the T-Bone Walker Blues Fest back to Linden. Held at Music City Texas, the event features The Duke Robillard Band and Whitey Johnson Band, a T-bone steak dinner, silent auction, proclamation of that day as T-Bone Walker Day in Linden and more from 3 p.m. onward.

LINDEN, Texas—For several years, the T-Bone Walker Blues Fest brought top blues acts to Linden for a celebration of native son Aaron Thibeaux "T-Bone" Walker.

One of the top blues guitarists of all time, T-Bone Walker was born in Linden in 1910, and the festival celebrated his considerable legacy (such as the song "Stormy Monday") by filling the grounds of Music City Texas Theater with great live blues. When it came to superior musicianship backed by an eclectic history lesson in the blues, the festival was tops in this area.

But in 2014, the T-Bone Walker Blues Fest moved to Longview for a variety of reasons, and now it's no longer held there.

The Linden Economic Development Corp. would like to see the festival return to Linden, so it's organized a T-Bone Walker Day Fundraiser for Saturday, Oct. 20. Held at Music City Texas, the event features two fine blues acts (The Duke Robillard Band and Whitey Johnson Band), a t-bone steak dinner, silent auction, proclamation of that day as T-Bone Walker Day in Linden and more from 3 p.m. onward.

Gus Gustafson, LEDC executive director, said funds raised will be used to—hopefully in 2019—"bring the blues fest back to Linden, where it belongs."

VIP seats include a full t-bone steak dinner cooked by champion East Texas cooks, Gustafson said.

"We've taken the lead and we've partnered with Music City Texas, like usual," he said about this event, noting after a few years in Longview it was T-Bone Walker's daughter, Bernita Walker, who decided to pull the T-Bone Walker affiliation from the festival in Longview.

"That opened the doors for us to bring it back," Gustafson said.

The aim is to try to return the festival to Linden and from there allow it to grow on its own, Gustafson said. That will be good for Cass County, Linden and local tourism, he believes.

"Linden is trying to embrace its musical heritage," Gustafson said, referencing the town's connection to Don Henley and Scott Joplin, too. The LEDC director, a self-described "blues guy," plays the blues himself, including "Stormy Monday."

"We hope to honor the man and the music," said Gustafson, who, when talking about the T-Bone Walker Blues Fest of 2013, observes that 19 performers played over two days.

"That was huge," Gustafson said, "so it had grown into quite the deal."

For now, the LEDC will hold this T-Bone Walker Day Fundraiser and set aside a day to honor the famed blues guitarist. This will be the case on Oct. 20 in perpetuity, Gustafson said.

"From that point forward, whatever anyone wants to do with it that will stay in Linden forever," he said, noting, too, that if the T-Bone Walker Blues Fest returns to Linden it may not start out as big as it was but it will grow at its own pace.

(Tickets: $100, $50. More info and ticket purchase: Facebook.com/LindenEconDevCorps or tbonewalkerday.tix.com.)

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