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Booker T. Jones highlights free 2016 Lowertown Blues Fest

Booker T. Jones at Rock the Garden 2011.

Booker T. Jones at Rock the Garden 2011.

St. Paul's third annual Lowertown Blues Festival landed a big name as its 2016 headliner: Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Booker T. Jones. 

Tickets to the all-ages July 23 fest at Mears Park are free. There are a limited number of $50 passes to the "VIP Blues Pit," which features prefered seating and artist meet-and-greets.

Jones will bring decades-spanning cachet to the Lowertown Blues Fest. He led the legendary Stax Records house band, the M.G.'s, back in the '60s, helping define the Memphis soul sound. The group, one of the first popular racially integrated ones in the south, played on hundreds of tracks by Stax artists like Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and Albert King. 

In recent years, Jones — a celebrated studio organist and songwriter — has collaborated with a delightfully wide array of artists, including Rancid, Drive-by Truckers, Kelly Hogan, Lou Reed, the Roots, and Neil Young. He performed at Rock the Garden in 2011, four years after winning the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award with the M.G.'s.

The rest of the '16 LBF lineup includes Bernard Allison, Corey Stevens, Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials, the Butanes Soul Revue, Kim Simmonds (of Savoy Brown), Joel Zoss, and Hurricane Harold & Doug Otto.