Tom Mazzolini

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Photo: Greg DeLory

Tom Mazzolini is the founder and producer of the San Francisco Blues Festival, the once-longest running blues festival in the United States. Born in Chicago, Tom moved to California in 1963, after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. He attended San Francisco State University, where he received a degree in American History in 1967. During his years at SFSU, Tom’s interest in folk music, as well as the burgeoning San Francisco rock scene of the 1960s, eventually led to his interest in blues music.

Upon graduation from college, Tom began collecting records, articles and memorabilia, which furthered his interest in writing about blues music. His articles, interviews and reviews of concerts and recordings appeared in numerous publications throughout the 1970s and ’80s. He was a contributing editor for Living Blues magazine for 12 years. He occasionally contributes blues interviews to various publications.

Tom Mazzolini founded the San Francisco Blues Festival in 1973 to educate the public about the history and evolution of the blues in the San Francisco-Richmond-Oakland area in the 1940s and ’50s. Many of the performers at the early concerts were the pioneers and originators of the West Coast blues sound. At that time there were only a handful of blues festivals across the country.Also in 1973, Tom started the longest running blues radio show in the Bay Area.

In May 2009 Tom was honored with a “Keeper of the Blues” award by the Mariposa Brewing Company at the First Annual Mariposa Blues Festival. The award was given “In recognition of Tom Mazzolini for his dedication of the Salvation of the Blues.” In 2010 Tom received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Golden Gate Blues Society for a lifetime of promotion, education and preservation of the blues to the Bay Area and the greater blues community. “No other individual has done more to keep the flame burning in the blues Community.” This award was presented at the Redwood City Blues Festival.”