Theater & Arts

Artists you should know: Ron Thompson

While not a full-fledged Fresnan, blues artist Ron Thompson is something of a Fresno treasure.

In his career, Thompson has had the distinction of playing with the likes of Etta James and B.B. King. He's a friend of Mick Fleetwood. And he was the bandleader for John Lee Hooker.

Thompson also performs (almost) every Thursday night at Crossroads, 3315 N. Cedar Ave.

This week, for instance, he was touring out in Nebraska on his way to Minnesota, so he missed his Thursday night spot. But most Thursdays, there's Thompson, performing a free show at 6 p.m. for loyal fans.

In May, Thompson was honored at San Jose Blues Week, which included a proclamation from the mayor of San Jose. That came after Sept. 5, 2007, being named Ron Thompson Day in San Francisco by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Thompson has lived in Madera in the past but now resides in San Leandro. So he drives out each Thursday to keep his tradition alive.

How's the Midwest treating you? It's great here. I have a following in different places. Like in Omaha, Lincoln and Minneapolis. It's always great to come out here.

When will you be back to Thursday nights at Crossroads? Next week. People come out and see me. As long as people come out and see me, I'll be playing there. It's really an honor that people come out and see me.

What's so special about that Thursday night show that's kept it going all these years? The fans come out every week, and it's great. It started out at Porky's, then I moved over to the Crossroads and they followed me. That's really great. I'm honored to have that kind of following out there. I come out there for that reason.

How much of an honor was the San Jose Blues Week? Just as much as it was to be honored in San Francisco. When I got the mayor's award in San Francisco, I couldn't believe it. I've played in San Jose and San Francisco for years. To get these things from both those mayors was amazing. I'm surprised I got it.

Do you have a trophy room for all this stuff? I don't have a trophy room, but I got enough room on my walls. I never thought about any of this, I started out just wanting to play the blues.

What do you have coming up in the next six months or year that people should look out for? I'm working on a new CD with a couple people. I'm doing that in September.

I'm playing various blues festival. I'm going out of town and doing some recordings. I'm doing some more stuff with Mick Fleetwood too.

I've been doing a lot of sessions in L.A. The blues is still popular in the record industry, so that's great. It's just really good to be called up.

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Know a local musician that more people should be familiar with? Send the who and why to Mike Osegueda,