The Cincy Blues Fest, widely considered one of the best of its kind in the region, celebrates a remarkable 20 years of providing Greater Cincinnati live music lovers with some of the finest Blues being made locally, regionally and nationally.
Aside from the lineup featuring a few higher quality headliners than the past couple of years (Duke Robillard, Webb Wilder, Trampled Under Foot, Super Chikan, Sista Monica, etc.), this year’s 20th anniversary celebration isn’t really being overblown, likely because the Cincy Blues Society and the army of volunteers that work the fest always do such an amazing job running the event; it’s already quite special, no matter what birthday the fest is celebrating.
One of my favorite elements of the Blues Fest is its undying support for our local players and singers. This year, Cincy Blues Challenge winners Chris Yakopcic and the Noah Wotherspoon Band have main-stage slots (they’ll also go to Memphis this winter to compete for Cincinnati in the International Blues Challenge). Yakopcic performs at 5:45 p.m. Friday, while Wotherspoon and Co. play at the same time Saturday (following a band of students associated with the Blues in the Schools program, for which the fest raises money).
The three side stages — always creatively programmed — have a heavy local presence. Friday, visit the “Blues: The Next Generation” stage for sets by younger area acts like the Wade Baker Trio, Brian Keith Wallen Band, Scotty Bratcher and (again!) Noah Wotherspoon and his band. The “Next Gen” stage starts at 5:15 p.m. Saturday.
As the name suggests, the St. Vincent DePaul Local Stage is chock full of local talent. Friday, the stage features Bad Men on a Mission, Them Bones, the Doug Hart Band, Leroy Ellington’s Blues Band and Blue SacrificeBlue Birds Big Band, the Gradual Taylor Band, the Leo Clarke Band, The Juice, Chuck Brisbin & the Tuna Project and Balderdash.
And perhaps the fest’s most notable and renowned side stage, the unique Boogie Woogie Piano Hall of Fame Stage, on Saturday will feature appearances by Jimmy Rogers, Todd Hepburn, Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues and Ricky Nye, plus players from across the planet. The Boogie Woogie stage closes out with a “grand finale jam” just before midnight.
For ticket info, the full schedule, details on the new Cincy Blues Fest mobile app and much more, visit cincybluesfest.org.
New Local Releases Galore
• Cincy Blues/R&B band The Blues Merchants will celebrate the release of its second LP, Tattooed with the Blues, Saturday at 7 p.m. at Jim Dandy’s Family BBQ. Fronted by charismatic vocalist Amy McFarland, the group also features Chris Kepes on guitar, Marc Hoffman on bass, Dave Koenig on drums and local legend Bob Nave on Hammond organ and keys. Nave was a member of Cincinnati’s The Lemon Pipers, which had a huge national hit in 1968 with the song “Green Tambourine.” For the new Merchants album, the group re-recorded the old Pipers tune (the only cover on the album), giving it a groove Nave says he originally had in mind when the Pipers first recorded it. (thebluesmerchants.com)
• Promising, eclectic Indie quintet Gorges are set to release their first recording — a four-song, self-titled affair — Saturday at Rohs Street Café in Clifton Heights. Showtime for the all-ages show is 8:30 p.m. Admission is $2; an extra $3 will also get you a copy of the EP. The Yugos will also perform. Gorges are a member of the local arts co-op the Marburg Collective and the group features members of The Happy Maladies, SHADOWRAPTR and Honest Abe. Visit facebook.com/gorgeousgorges for a sample.
• Strong Rock/Pop newcomers Damn It To Hell will be giving out copies of their new tunes this Saturday when they join Bowling Green, Ky., group The Black Shades for a free show at Over-the-Rhine club MOTR Pub. Showtime is 10 p.m. (facebook.com/DamnItToHell)
• Rockers Kissing Daylight — described as an “edgy mix of garage rock, punk, pop, alternative and old school hard rock” — will release their new EP in conjunction with a party/concert Friday at Molly Malone’s in Covington. The trio’s five-song EP is available through kissingdaylight.com and the “usual suspect” online retailers (as well as Spotify). Check out some tunes at reverbnation.com/kissingdaylight.
• Friday at Northside Tavern, ex-Stapletons (and Cash Flagg) singer/guitarist Jody Stapleton releases the first music from his Jody Stapleton and the Generals project. Described as having “the sonic stomp of the early ’70s beneath of a back drop of sunshine-drenched AM gold,” Jody and Co. release their debut album, Turn on Your Lights, Friday with guests Josh Eagle and The Harvest City and The Ready Stance. (jodystapletonandthegenerals.com)
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter (@CityBeatMusic)