- R.F Wittmeyer
- June 22, 2017
Attending a Bluesfest is a relaxing way to enjoy the summer weather and hear some fantastic live music, although a short road trip may be necessary. Many great Bluesfests can be found around the Midwest, especially in historical river towns along the Mississippi River.
Blues is an authentic American music genre, which started in the South around the turn of the 20th century. As the African American community, which created the blues, moved up from the south in the 1940’s and early 50’s to cities like Chicago and Detroit, the Blues evolved from an acoustic music to the electric blues, backed by drums, bass, and at times, horns. The Blues went on the become the foundation for rock and roll– not a bad pedigree.
American blues artists currently have a huge following in Europe, Japan, and other foreign countries, but blues music continues to have a loyal following in the US as well. Many people I talk to are only familiar with the slow blues, and not the up-tempo blues tunes that are much of what you’ll hear at a Bluesfest. Most of the tunes have a great toe-tappin’ groove, great singers, blistering guitar, and solid backup musicians.
Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
A Bluesfest can make for a relaxing, economical, weekend get-away. One of our favorite Bluesfests is the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival (MVBF), held in beautiful LeClaire Park, on the banks of the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa. The MVBF, in its 30th year, blues acts on two stages during the 4th of July weekend.
One stage is the ornate permanent band shell, with acoustics that really projects the sound out all across the park. The other is a large circus tent, which has the effect of containing and channeling the sound throughout the tent. The two stage format, with the acts staggered, allows you to catch at least a portion of all the acts. There is typically plenty of room to stretch out, with minimal lines for food, drinks, and restrooms. All you need is your lawn chair, a few bucks for beer and food, and you’re ready to kick back and enjoy some great live music.
The MVBF, like many bluesfests, is put on by the local blues society–in this case, the Mississippi Valley Blues Society. The MVBF always has a wide variety of blues performers as well as top national headliners. You can easily catch more than a dozen acts over two days. Some of our past favorites were blues guitar icon, Joe Louis Walker, Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers, and the Koko Taylor tribute.
Since we’ve been going, the MVBF always seems to have a strong cast of female vocalists who can really belt it out, backed by great bands. This year is no exception. You can check out the line-up of artists here as well as find detailed information about the MVBF: http://mvbs.org/blues-fest.php.
And, blues artists love to perform for an enthusiastic crowd. Blues musicians are performers first, and recording artists second. This isn’t pop or rap — no big recording contracts here. These talented artists do it for the love of the music, and it shows in the good time they have performing.
So, for $15 on Friday and $20 on Saturday, you can enjoy world-class musical talent in a small and relaxed outdoor venue. You can also save $5 by purchasing your tickets in advance so this festival is a real deal!
I don’t know if it’s the music that puts everyone in a such a great mood, or whether relaxed people are just attracted to bluesfests, but the crowd always seems to be mellow, friendly, and appreciative of the great performances.
So, where do you find more info on bluesfests? Check out this awesome website, chalk full of blues info, including a calendar of local, national, and international bluesfests: www.bluesfestivalguide.com. Or contact me anytime, at [email protected]
Enjoy the summer of 2017 and drive safe!