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Festival to get Rolling Stone: Keyboardist Leavell to headline Blind Willie

The 13th Annual Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival set for May 20 has a power-packed lineup.

The Activities Council of Thomson announced the show's lineup Tuesday afternoon that includes Georgia native Chuck Leavell, pianist for the Rolling Stones and formerly of the Allman Brothers Band.

Also set to play is the Randall Bramblett Band from Athens, guitarist Sean Costello from Atlanta, the country blues/ragtime guitar duo of Steve James of Austin, Tex., and Del Rey of Seattle, Wash., Mississippi's Robert Lockwood, Jr. and Thomson's Crosstie Walkers.

"We're mighty fortunate to be able to offer the area a lineup of this caliber," said Activities Council Member Don Powers.

Mr. Leavell, from the Macon area, will take some time off from touring with the Rolling Stones to play in the McDuffie County festival. He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2004.

With his impressive musical resume, Mr. Leavell is highly sought after as a session player and tour performer. He has recorded and toured with big names like Eric Clapton and the late Beatle, George Harrison.

The event will be held at its regular site, on Stagecoach Road, 300 yards off Washington Highway, north of Thomson. Organizers are hoping for a large crowd again this year.

"The past couple of years' attendance has been super. We want to build on that, and we're optimistic that we'll get some new fans in to hear folks like Randall and Chuck as well as the continued support of folks who love our show and come back year in and year out," Mr. Powers said.

According to an Activities Council press release, the event is held each year to pay tribute to country blues legend and McDuffie County native Blind Willie McTell who was born and buried in Happy Valley. It is also held to showcase some of the best musicians in the country.

Traditional southern food and beverages such as ribs, chicken, fish and Cajun food will be available at the festival. Carry in food and drink will not be allowed.

Advance tickets for the Saturday afternoon show are $20 and can be purchased beginning in early April at the Depot in Thomson, as well as online at Children 12 and under will be admitted free of charge.

The Activities Council hopes to make a decision about additional Friday night musical activities soon. For information call the McDuffie County Tourism Department at 706-597-1000.

Web posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2006

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