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REGATTA: Take a RIDE with Randy & friends

The musicians of Ride pose for a group photo.1 / 2
In addition to playing the trumpet and providing vocals, Randy Johnson also plays the harmonica.2 / 2

WORTHINGTON — There are few passions bigger then boardsports and music in Randy Johnson’s life. Those passions will combine when Johnson and his band, Ride, perform Saturday night at the Worthington Windsurfing Regatta and Unvarnished Music Festival.

Ride has performed at the Worthington event several times over the years and has been a crowd favorite.

Formed in the mid 1990s, the group has maintained many of its original players over the years. Both John Layon and Mike Bruns have been with the band for 15 years, and Gerry Dahl and Jonathan Townsend are newcomers, playing bass and drums, respectively.

“We’ve been captured by the blues and rhythm and blues. We believe we’re all vibratory beings living in a vibratory universe,” Johnson said. “Whether it’s music or riding the water, there’s a ‘pocket’ that’s available. … That’s why we love your festival so much. It’s such a rich blend of all the elements.”

When Johnson is living in the Twin Cities, Ride plays at the Washington Square Bar and Grill in White Bear Lake. But he spends a good chunk of the year elsewhere.

“For the past seven years I’ve spent the first months of the year in Cayucos, Calif.,” explained Johnson. “While it enables me to continue boardsport year-round, I’ve also hooked up with a good posse of musicians who tolerate my transitory relationship. Playing for The Lenny Blue Band, I’m humbled to play with some great blues musicians. The Mystery Brothers are more of a blues jazz group, and I occasionally play with Tennessee Jimmy Harrel, a local country musician who’s given me a much greater appreciation for real country.”

Those musical influences eventually factor into Ride’s sound.

“While there are some disadvantages, I really think this four-month break gives us new energy and keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously,” Johnson said. “All of the other guys play in other bands around town when I’m gone. … It’s always fun to see their influences from making music with other players.”

“Ride” will take the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday night and perform a compilation of blues and rock songs, ranging from artists like Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield and Freddie King to the Grateful Dead, Bill Withers and Lou Reed.

“We’re so looking forward to our Unvarnished Music Festival gig in Worthington,” Johnson summarized. “It’s hard to believe it’s going on and gaining strength over all these years. It’s a great testament to the strength of your community.”