by Mike Breen
Popular Blues showcase returns to Sawyer Point for weekend of Blues you can use
By all accounts (from people who actually attended or performed), last month’s huge Bunbury Music Festival was one of the best-run fests of its kind this area has ever seen. Organizer Bill Donabedian no doubt scored some tips from the operators of the big annual Blues celebration, the volunteer-driven Cincy Blues Fest, which has been doing the “well-run music festival” thing at Sawyer Point Park along the riverfront for many years now. This weekend, the Cincy Blues Fest — one of the finest Blues events in the Midwest — returns to Sawyer Point to celebrate its 20th anniversary. That's a remarkable two decades of providing Greater Cincinnati live music lovers with some of the
finest Blues being made locally, regionally and nationally, a rare and impressive achievement for any music festival. This year’s main stage national headliners are especially strong — Webb Wilder on Friday and Duke Robillard on Saturday — but the Cincy Blues Fest always has a ton of interesting and engaging artists performing throughout the fest’s multiple stages.
Aside from the lineup featuring a few
higher quality headliners than the past couple of years (like Robillard, 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. Friday "The Next Generation of Blues" stage lineup5:15 p.m. Wade Baker Trio6:20 p.m. Jellico Motel7:05 p.m. Brian Keith Wallen Band8:10 p.m. Carson Diersing Band9:25 p.m. Scotty Bratcher10:40 p.m. Noah Wotherspoon Band
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 Sacrifice.
Saturday, catch the Blue
Birds Big Band, the Gradual Taylor Band, the Leo Clarke Band, The Juice,
Chuck Brisbin & the Tuna Project and Balderdash. Friday St. Vincent De Paul Local Stage lineup5:45-6:45 p.m. Bad Men on a Mission7:00-8:00 p.m. Them Bones8:15-9:15 p.m. Doug Hart Band9:30-10:30 p.m. Leroy Ellington’s Blues Band10:45pm-12:00 a.m. Blue SacrificeSaturday St. Vincent De Paul Local Stage lineup 4:30-5:30 p.m. Blue Birds Big Band5:45-6:45 p.m. The Gradual Taylor Band7:00-8:00 p.m. The Leo Clarke Band8:15-9:15 p.m. The Juice9:30-10:30 p.m. Chuck Brisbin & the Tuna Project10:45-11:45 p.m. 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. Saturday Boogie Woogie Piano Hall of Fame Stage lineup4:30 p.m. Jimmy Rogers5:10 p.m. Todd Hepburn5:50 p.m. Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues6:50 p.m. Ricky Nye7:40 p.m. Mark Braun8:30 p.m. Rob Rio9:20 p.m. Cynthia Girtley10:10 p.m. Bob Seeley11:00 p.m. Fabrice Eulry11:50 p.m. Grand Finale JamHere are the lineups for the Budweiser Main Stage this weekend:Friday Budweiser Main Stage lineup 5:45-6:45 p.m. Chris Yakopcic7:00-8:15 p.m. Super Chikan8:30-10:00 p.m. Sista Monica10:15-11:45 p.m. Webb WilderSaturday Budweiser Main Stage lineup5:00-5:30 p.m. Blues in the School (BITS) Band5:45-6:45 p.m. Noah Wotherspoon Band7:00-8:15 p.m. Southern Hospitality8:30-10:00 p.m. Trampled Under Foot10:15-11:45 p.m. Duke RobillardTickets are $20 each day (two-day passes are
available Friday at the gates for $30), or grab yours early through
brownpapertickets.com for a $5 discount. Or you can join the Cincy Blues
Society (cincyblues.org), the creators and managers of Cincy Blues
Fest, to receive an even deeper discount.
Be sure to pick up a copy of this week's CityBeat, which includes a pull-out guide for the Cincy Blues Fest, with artist bios, schedules and more. For further ticket info, updates, details on the new Cincy Blues Fest mobile app and much more, visit cincybluesfest.org.