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Irma Thomas closes out Blues Fest




For those used to seeing Irma Thomas in a standing room only space in a New Orleans club or at Jazz Fest in the blues or gospel tent, it had to feel a little strange watching the Soul Queen of the Crescent City play to a smallish crowd on the final  night of the Tampa Bay Blues Fest.

But never mind the numbers, it was her numbers -- and her wonderful, soulful voice -- that the hardy souls who braved a stiff wind off the bay were rewarded with. In fact, Thomas seemed taken aback by the coolness of the evening, sassing, "I thought it was supposed to be warm down here. I had to get me a jacket. The hot flashes ain't workin'."

And while she took her time working into her ultimate bluesiness, fans were rewarded with staples like You Can Have My Husband but) Don't Mess with My Man and I've Been Loving You Too Long. She closed with some Tina Turner goodness, Simply the Best, before heading back for a short encore that included signature song Time Is On My Side.

How was the rest of the fest? I wasn't there for all three days of the fest, a friend told me he thought the crowds were down a bit for previous years, although Saturday had a nice turnout. As for food, gotta say that our collards and barbecue from the RibJoint hit the spot.

We did spot one celeb in the crowd: comedian Ron "Tater Salad" White, with his ever-present cigar.

Here's hoping this fest is back again in 2010 for its 17th year, and that the crowds return for Sunday's closing set. Would have been fun to sway with thousands instead of the few who stuck around to see Irma.

-- Anne Glover, Times staff writer

[Times photo, Anne Glover]

[Last modified: Sunday, March 22, 2009 11:08pm]


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