Part of the appeal of the Lloyd's Blues Music Festival, an annual event on the St. Louis blues music calendar since 1993, is its predictability. Although the event has undergone several name changes over the years, a few constants remain: Legendary guitarist B.B. King (pictured) always headlines, it's always at the Fox, and it always takes place in late summer.This year, King will be supported by Chicago blues great Buddy Guy, singer/songwriter John Hiatt and up-and-coming San Francisco-based guitarist Tommy Castro. If you haven't kept up with Hiatt over the last few years, you may be surprised to see his name on the bill. A few spins of Hiatt's last recording, the bluesy, acoustic Crossing Muddy Waters, should put any doubts to rest. Castro has won several music awards in the Bay Area for his recordings on the independent Blind Pig label; his combination of Stevie Ray Vaughan-style guitar and soulful vocals has garnered praise from both blues musicians and critics. Guy, who established himself on the Chicago scene in the late '50s and early '60s with classic recordings for Chess and Cobra, is still going strong at the age of 65. His latest CD, Sweet Tea, marks a return to the spare, stripped-down blues approach of those early recordings and underscores his mastery of the genre.
Although King has slowed some in recent years -- he now sits during concerts rather than roaming the stage -- he still possesses amazing chops. The music starts promptly at 7 p.m., so get there on time if you don't want to miss Tommy Castro.