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Karen Andrus, of Livermore, from left, and Louis Mercado, of Sacramento, dance to the Blues Harmonica Explosion at the Russell City Blues Festival in Hayward, Calif., Saturday, July 7, 2012. The festival in its 13th year is presented by the Bay Area Blues Society and the City of Hayward. (Anda Chu/Staff)

Get ready for the blues.

The Hayward Russell City Blues Festival returns to downtown Hayward this weekend, offering up two days of talented blues artists for local fans.

The lineup for the 15th annual event, considered one of Northern California's top blues festivals, features Billy Branch and Sons of Blues; Taildragger; Grady Champion; Felton Crews and Chicago Blues Band featuring Jimmy Burns and Willie Williams; Toronzo Cannon; and Demetria Taylor.

The festival runs 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday-Sunday at Hayward City Hall Plaza, 777 B St. Single-day tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Two-day tickets are $45 advance. Tickets are available at www.highsierratickets.com and www.brownpapertickets.com.

For more information, visit www.bayareabluessociety.net.

The festival celebrates the rich musical heritage of Russell City, which was an unincorporated area of Hayward. During its heyday in the 1940s and '50s, Russell City was one of the West Coast's blues capitals, hosting such legends as Big Joe Turner and Big Mama Thornton.

The theme of this year's Hayward-Russell City Blues Festival is "Chicago 2 Russell City."

A festival kickoff party takes place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday at the Bistro in Hayward. That same venue will also host the festival's after-party, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday.


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Silver Fox aka Jeff Fierro with Blues Harmonica Explosion performs at the Russell City Blues Festival in Hayward on July 7, 2012.
Silver Fox aka Jeff Fierro with Blues Harmonica Explosion performs at the Russell City Blues Festival in Hayward on July 7, 2012. (Anda Chu/Staff file)