Blues festival slated as benefit for local musician |

Blues festival slated as benefit for local musician

Denise Sloan

When Angel South’s friends learned he had cancer, it didn’t take them long to rally around him. South is a respected blues guitarist and songwriter who has a Grammy to his credit.

And plenty of friends in his corner.

Part of the proceeds for the Horizon Casino Resort’s annual Rib Cook-Off were donated to South in June to help pay for medical care. Since then his cancer has spread into his pelvis, kidney and spine.

But South and his friends are not giving up.

A full day of live blues music will take place Saturday in Cool, Calif., as a benefit for South.

His illness is not a rare one.

It’s one that more than 165,000 American men each year discover they have – prostate cancer.

South, 54, was forced to move away from South Lake Tahoe several weeks ago so he could be closer to his cancer treatments without having to worry about winter travel and closed roads.

Not only did many of South’s longtime friends get together to organize this blues festival, they also convinced him and his new wife, Patti, to move to Cool instead of his intended destination – Willits, Calif.

“About two or three days before we were to move, they all got together and talked us into to moving to Cool. I’m glad I did, because it’s beautiful here. It looks like storybook land with the rolling hills and homes dotted around us,” he said.

South’s many friends, both in and out of the music industry, have offered their continued support.

“Everything they’ve done gives me faith in human nature again,” he said. “Being a musician, you get beat around at lot in this trade and you sort of lose faith in mankind. But everyone has been so helpful.”

Originally from Port Arthur, Texas, South was childhood friends with Johnny and Edgar Winter, B.J. Thomas and Janis Joplin. South’s guitar work was featured in the 1970s Grammy Award-winning band Chase. He’s played at Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, New York City’s Central Park, the Newport Jazz Festival and the Hollywood Bowl.

In the early ’90s he settled in South Lake Tahoe.

The Angel South Blues Festival & Benefit begins at noon in the Milestone Saloon with blues bands performing on two stages, outdoors during daylight hours and inside the saloon at night.

Scheduled to perform are South; Hollywood Texas; the Bay Area Blues Society Caravan of All Stars in Memory of Cool Papa; the Steve Barnes Blues Band; The Larry Yates Blues Band and Jerry Woods. More acts will be added.

At 2 p.m., South will perform solo and at 9 p.m. he will be the featured guitarist, joined by vocalist Rolland Dempsey and mouth harpist Steve Cohen.

“It is getting harder to play,” South admitted. “Some of these medications are so strong they deteriorate your body. Now I have to tape my pick onto my thumb because I couldn’t hold it.

“But if I stopped playing music, I’d die now.”

While there is no admission charge, donations will be accepted. Copies of his new self-produced CD “Texas Guitar Slinger” will be on sale.

The village of Cool is in the Motherlode, six miles south of Auburn, on State Route 49. For details, call (916) 889-1768.

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