Few things pair quite as well as blues and barbecue.

Don't just take our word for it. You can find out for yourself at two upcoming community events -- Art + Soul Oakland and the Redwood City PAL Blues, ARTS and BBQ Festival.

Both should be extremely tasty affairs -- and not just because the barbecue will surely be finger-licking good. They both offer solid musical lineups. The bill for Art + Soul is quite diverse but big on the blues. The Redwood City event, however, is all about the blues.

Here's a closer look at the two festivals.

Art + Soul Oakland

The grand street party returns to downtown Oakland Aug. 2-3, showcasing some 40 acts on four stages. The musical offerings range from funk and mambo to hip-hop and, of course, soul.

There will also be a blistering live blues soundtrack to accompany the festival's inaugural Oaktown Throwdown BBQ competition, where both professional pitmasters and backyard barbecue buddies compete for cash prizes.

The daylong blues and barbecue party takes place on Aug. 2, featuring such talented acts as Tommy Castro and the Painkillers and the Bay Area Blues Society Caravan of Allstars.

Art + Soul is a family-friendly event, offering a multitude of activities for the young ones. It runs noon to 6 p.m. both days in a 10-block area around Frank H. Ogawa Plaza and City Center. Admission is $7-$10, with children 12 and under getting in free. More details are at www.artandsouloakland.com.


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Here are some of the highlights of the musical lineup.

Tommy Castro and the Painkillers: The San Jose bluesman is one of the best in the business -- and he's got the hardware to prove it. In 2008, Castro won the highly coveted Blues Music Award for entertainer of the year (4:45-5:45 p.m. Saturday).

Blues showcase: The Bay Area Blues Society, an organization that has done so much to promote the genre over the years, has put together a terrific lineup of blues talent. Highlights are sure to include the Society's own Caravan of Allstars, which is led by guitarist Ronnie Stewart, and a tribute to the late, great Curtis Mayfield. Individual set times had not yet been announced by press time (12:15-4:15 p.m. Saturday).

Gospel Showcase: This year's lineup includes Lawrence Matthews, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, Stabe Wilson, the Love Center Choir and many others. It's presented by Edwin Hawkins and the Community of Unity (all day Saturday).

Dazz Band: The Ohio act was a hit in the 1980s, thanks to such singles as "Joystick" and "Let It Whip" (2 p.m. Sunday).

Alta California: The 10-piece Oakland troupe performs a mix of rumba, flamenco, Afro-Cuban, R&B, soul and hip-hop styles (3 p.m. Sunday).

Rose Royce: The L.A. soul act is best known for the '70s smash "Car Wash," but it also delivered such hits as "I Wanna Get Next to You" and "I'm Going Down" (3:15 p.m. Sunday).

Pacific Mambo Orchestra: The Oakland outfit turned heads earlier this year when its self-titled debut won the Grammy for best tropical Latin album. The 19-piece orchestra features Alexa Morales on lead vocals (4:45 p.m. Sunday).

Redwood City PAL Blues, ARTS and BBQ

The ninth annual Redwood City PAL Blues, ARTS and BBQ Festival boasts a solid lineup top to bottom, highlighted by such acclaimed blues acts as Rick Estrin & the Nightcats, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, Aki Kumar Blues Band, Tebo and Ms. Taylor P. Collins.

And, of course, you can always count on the barbecue being tasty.

Best of all, admission is free.

The good times roll from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at Courthouse Square in downtown Redwood City, www.redwoodcitypal.com/blues.

Besides music, food and drink, the festival offers children's activities, arts vendors and other forms of family friendly fun. Proceeds benefit the Redwood City Police Activities League (PAL), which offers youth summer camps and other important programs.

(Photo by Lewis MacDonald)Tommy Castro performs at the Great American Blues & Barbecue Festival on July 20 in downtown San Rafael.
(Photo by Lewis MacDonald) Tommy Castro performs at the Great American Blues & Barbecue Festival on July 20 in downtown San Rafael. ( Photo by Lewis MacDonald )

Here's the lineup.

Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers: Piazza leads one of the West Coast's most popular blues outfits. He's a tremendous harmonica player, who combines elements of Chicago, West Coast and jump blues (6 p.m. Friday, part of Music on the Square series).

Deeva and the Blazers: Vocalist Deeva Stativa fronts this Bay Area band, performing the music of Etta James, Koko Taylor and other female artists (11 a.m. Saturday).

Ms. Taylor P. Collins: The powerhouse vocalist has performed with Ruth Brown, John Handy and other notable artists (noon Saturday).

Tebo: The talented bassist, who is also a Grammy-nominated producer, will perform a tribute to the late, great Howlin' Wolf (1 p.m. Saturday).

Golden State-Lone Star Revue: This gathering of Texas and California blues talents includes guitarists Anson Funderburgh and Little Charlie Baty as well as harmonica hero Mark Hummel (2 p.m. Saturday).

Good Hands Organ Trio: The Bay Area combo, featuring former Charles Brown guitarist Danny Caron and Hammond B3 player Wayne De La Cruz, made its debut at the 2003 Monterey Jazz Festival (3 p.m. Saturday).

Aki Kumar Blues Band: The harp hero is considered one of the rising stars on the Bay Area blues scene (4 p.m. Saturday).

Rick Estrin & the Nightcats: The Sacramento acts ranks among the West Coast's best blues bands. The group recently released its first-ever concert disc, "You Asked For It ... Live!" (5 p.m. Saturday).

Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic and www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews.

art + Soul oakland

When: Noon-6 p.m. Aug. 2-3
Where: Downtown Oakland, around Frank H. Ogawa Plaza and City Center
Tickets: $10 general admission, $7 seniors (65 and older) and ages 13-17, children 12 and under get in free; www.artandsouloakland.com


Redwood City PAL Blues, ARTS and BBQ Festival

When: 5-8:30 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Courthouse Square in downtown Redwood City
Tickets: Admission is free; www.redwoodcitypal.com/blues