Boogie-woogie is all around us.

It's impacted and influenced so many different styles of music, from psychedelic rock and mainstream pop to Chicago blues and Western swing. A partial list of prominent artists who have borrowed from boogie-woogie would include blues great John Lee Hooker, country legend George Strait, pop star Christina Aguilera, rock pioneer Fats Domino, Haight-Ashbury heroes the Grateful Dead and even classical music composer Conlon Nancarrow.

Still, it's not often that we get to hear boogie-woogie in its purest form -- as the piano-driven blues music sounded when it first became popular in the 1930s.

That will change for fans this weekend, as the San Francisco Boogie-Woogie Festival takes over the SFJazz Center on Sunday (Nov. 17).

COURTESY OF WENDY DEWITTEast Bay pianist Wendy DeWitt is on the bill for the Boogie-Woogie Festival at the SFJazz Center.
COURTESY OF WENDY DEWITT East Bay pianist Wendy DeWitt is on the bill for the Boogie-Woogie Festival at the SFJazz Center. (wd)

The inaugural outing features some of the world's best boogie-woogie pianists, including Bob Seeley, Carl Sonny Leyland and Silvan Zingg. They'll showcase a variety of takes on the time-honored musical tradition, performing everything from classic to contemporary boogie-woogie numbers.

The biggest draw will likely be Detroit's Seeley, an absolute giant of the genre who has performed with jazz pianist Art Tatum and played Carnegie Hall on several occasions. His fan base reportedly includes such notable artists as the Rolling Stones and Kid Rock.

The other acts on the bill are also quite noteworthy. British-born Leyland has toured with both Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets and Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys, while Switzerland's Zingg has shared the stage with such legends as Ray Charles and B.B. King.


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Barcelona-born Lluís Coloma, one of Europe's top boogie-woogie players, is also on the bill. Then there's San Francisco's own Wendy DeWitt, whom blues legend Hadda Brooks reportedly once dubbed the "Queen of Boogie-woogie." DeWitt teaches at Berkeley's Jazzschool and is known for putting on boogie-woogie shows at Yoshi's.

The San Francisco International Boogie-Woogie Festival kicks off at 4 p.m. Tickets are $20-$50 (www.sfjazz.org).

MAY DAZE: May of 1977 was, to put it mildly, a very good month to be on the road with the Grateful Dead.

The legendary Bay Area psychedelic-rock band had just come off a 20-month hiatus -- and had put the finishing touches on its ninth studio album, "Terrapin Station" -- and Deadheads were expecting nothing less than an epic spring tour.

That's certainly what fans received during this run, which is considered one of the finest of the band's 30-year career. Jerry Garcia and the gang were at the height of their powers as they resurrected old favorites and introduced new material during this now-cherished tour, which is documented in the new box set "May 1977."

"The spring tour of 1977, long and deservedly hailed as one of the most brilliant strings of shows in the band's history, represented one of those Darwinian leaps, when the Dead took a bold collective step into the future, reinventing itself for a savvy audience eager to live on that edge where something new was always waiting to be born," writes Dead historian Steve Silberman in the box set's liner notes.

"May 1977" is a mammoth 14-disc set that features five complete concerts -- May 11 at the St. Paul Civic Center Arena in Minnesota; May 12 and 13 at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago; May 15 at St. Louis Arena; and May 17 at the Coliseum at the University of Alabama.

It's a limited edition set, and most of the 15,000 individually numbered copies are already spoken for. Yet some were still available when I last checked -- priced at $139.98 per set. You can also download the music for $99.98. For details, go to www.dead.net.

MORE 'UNPLUGGED': Who could've dreamed that Eric Clapton, one of the undisputed greats of the electric guitar, would grow even more popular once he ditched his Fender for an acoustic Martin?

Yet that's exactly what happened when Slowhand released "Unplugged" in 1992.

The live record, which was recorded for the "MTV Unplugged" series, brought Clapton to the top of the U.S. album charts for the first time since 1974's "461 Ocean Boulevard," on its way to selling a staggering 19-million-plus copies worldwide. It also earned a half-dozen Grammy Awards, including for record, album and song of the year. (The album's hit ballad, "Tears in Heaven," was the cut that scored the record and song honors.)

Fans can revisit that triumphant moment with the newly released "Unplugged: Deluxe Edition." The set includes two CDs -- the original 14-track album and a collection of six outtakes and alternate recordings of "Unplugged" songs. It also has a DVD containing a restored version of Clapton's MTV performance, which aired in 1992.

It's pretty much a must-have for all Clapton enthusiasts and retails for $24.98 (www.rhino.com).

Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic, Facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.