Janiva Magness is lucky she gets to do what she loves – play music.
When things are going well, which is often these days, “people applaud and then someone gives me money,” the Detroit blues singer says during a break at last week’s Americana Music Festival in Nashville, Tenn. She will be in the Valley on Saturday, Oct. 1, to headline the Harvest Moon Blues Festival at Bullfrog’s Bar and Grill in Kingsburg.
Magness started singing professionally in the 1980s and earned a name for herself in the contemporary blues scene. She was the Blues Foundation’s B.B. King Entertainer of the Year in 2009, the same year she was named the female artist of the year, an award she’d already won twice.
She categorizes her music generally as Americana, hence her invitation to the festival. But that is a broad category, Magness says. Much like the singer herself, it encompasses everything from country and bluegrass to soul music and blues.
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Unlike modern pop music, Americana is not about a particular style trait, she says.
“It comes back to the music. It comes back to the songs,” she says.
“As opposed to baby, baby, baby, baby, baby … .” She continues for a while.
Of course, the music is only a vehicle for Magness. It is her means to the end.
The job, the one that she gets paid for and sometimes makes a living at, is making a connection.
“And people really seem to be connecting,” she says.
Details: 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, at Bullfrog’s Bar and Grill, 38743 California 99, Kingsburg. $15-$20. All ages. 559-897-5100, www.livemusiccity.com
The draw: This is the fourth installment of the Summer Sweat series, which has already offered more than a few discoveries for those looking for local and regional underground music. Here we get another dozen-plus artists, including the Los Angeles duo Inc. No World, plus local rapper Otis Reed, electro-pop singer Sahab, math-rock emo band Chyna and more. If you are really into music, you’ll want to come early and stay late.
Details: 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, at Tioga Sequoia, 745 Fulton St. $10. All ages. @summersweat.party on Facebook
The event: Jamacian ska legends The Ska-talites do an intimate (read: sure to be packed) all-ages show at Strummer’s.
The draw: To be clear, without the Ska-talites, you wouldn’t have bands like the Police, the Clash, the Specials, the English Beat, Sublime or No Doubt. Formed in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1964, the Ska-talites were the originators of ska music and instrumental its musical offshoots – rocksteady and later reggae. The band played backing for Toots and the Maytals, Prince Buster and Bob Marley’s The Wailing Wailers. They also established a name for themselves with songs such as “Guns of Navarone.”
Details: 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, at Strummer’s, 833 E. Fern Ave. $17. All ages. 559-485-5356, www.strummersclub.com
The event: West Coast Blues Society brings the Caravan of Allstars revue to the Tower Theatre Lounge.
The draw: Led by guitarist Ronnie Stewart, the Caravan of Allstars represents the heroes of the Oakland blues scene and, by proxy, blues jazz and gospel music as American art forms. The seven-piece band plays through the blues, R&B, swing, Motown and more.
Details: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, Tower Theatre Lounge, 815 E. Olive Ave. $20-$30. 559-485-9050. www.towertheatrefresno.com
Playing in the street
The event: CenCalVia looks to re-envision city streets – in this case, Ventura Avenue in Fresno – as more than just pathways for cars.
The draw: Technically, CenCalVia is Fresno’s first ciclovia, a worldwide movement of street festivals used to highlight the need for investment in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Cities block off roadways from automobile traffic, then open them to cyclists and pedestrians for the day. Fresno’s ciclovia is being hosted by the Fresno County Bicycle Coalition and will be super bike friendly – there will be a bike polo demonstration and bike repair stations. But it’s really for anyone who is up for playing in the street. There also will be dance lessons, Zumba, chalk murals and more.
Details: 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, Ventura Avenue from First to Cedar avenues.