Blackberry Stage Can’t Hold Ron Thompson

Ron Thompson spent about an hour on stage Sunday as the headline act for Day Two of the Bremerton Blackberry Festival.

He spent another hour in front of it.

That’s how big a talent the bluesman from San Francisco is — the little stage couldn’t hold him. For much of his involving, high-intensity set Sunday, he was down on the concrete with the dancers.

If you missed him, Thompson will be back in action Monday, putting a cap on the festival’s Mainstage schedule. He and his band, the Resistors, will play from 4 to 6 p.m, preceded by pianist Scott Cossu (at 11 a.m.) and Clave Con Jazz (1:30 p.m.).

And if you like great playing, dirty boogie, bottleneck slide and good ol’ Chicago-style blues, Thompson’s your guy. His set Sunday was a marvel of hard work, musicianship … and multi-tasking. Thompson sings and plays guitar; he sings and plays electric piano; he plays guitar and harmonica. What’ll really wow you is when he plays guitar and piano at the same time.

He covers slow blues like "I’ve Been Loving You Too Long" to boogie standbys like "Boom Boom" with equal aplomb and commitment. When the tempo slows a bit, he might sit on the front of the stage with his guitar on his knees, dashing off lovely, mournful bits of slide

But the signature Thompson is off the stage completely, resplendent in baggy suit, fedora and spats, alternating chunky riffs with slide rave-ups. To me, he sounded a little better — clearer, anyway — in the second half of the show, when he switched to a hollowbody that served him well whether he was playing the pensive, self-penned "Prayer for the 21st Century" or shredding old three-chord blues like "Can’t Hold Out."

Vocally, he calls to mind both John Lee Hooker, one of his mentors, and original Fleetwood Mac slide ace Jeremy Spencer, and his playing is more than a little reminiscent of Spencer’s old bandmate, Peter Green — especially during the show’s more hard-edged boogie excursions.

But it’s all good. And the best thing is that if you missed him Sunday, you get another chance Monday.

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