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Bull Durham Blues Festival 

The 'Blues" portion in the name Bull Durham Blues Festival, a gathering now in its 17th year, has gradually become more of a guideline than a strict entry requirement. Case in point is Friday night at the Durham Athletic Park. Durham-based rhythm & blues vet Bobby Hinton starts things off, followed by young zydeco wizard Chris Ardoin, while the top half of the bill promises deep soul courtesy of Otis Clay and headliner Solomon Burke. Long before Bob Seger had a hit with 'Trying to Live My Life Without You," it was recorded by both Clay and his Hi Records mate O.V. Wright. Wright has long passed on (and Seger's not exactly on the radar), but Clay maintains a busy recording and touring schedule in both the gospel and secular arenas. And the height of the esteem in which Solomon Burke is held can be measured by looking at the list of writers for his triumphant 2002 album Don't Give Up on Me--Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Dan Penn, Van Morrison and Elvis Costello among them--many of whom wrote a song specifically for the project. Adding to the soul flavor is Saturday night's headliner Isaac Hayes, now 40 years into a career that began with him as a triple-threat workhorse (session keyboardist, composer, and, eventually, solo artist) at Stax. The festival begins Thursday with a double-bill at the Hayti Heritage Center set to be the truest to the festival's name: traditional blues performer Waymon 'Buttermilk" Meeks and the duo of guitarist Kenny Neal and vocalist/harmonica player Billy Branch. For ticket information and a complete list of performers, visit www.hayti.org/blues/index.asp.

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