DarielB – Flying Under the Radar

Port City Gets a Groove On

Posted in Interviews, Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on July 11, 2011


Being a fine old southern city, Wilmington, N.C. is steeped in tradition, and one of its favorites is the upcoming Cape Fear Blues Festival set for July 29 – 31.

Three days of blues in the Port City will include live concerts, a blues workshop, an all-day blues jam, a guitar raffle and the always popular Blues Cruise aboard Wilmington’s Henrietta III.

Nashville's Rickey Godfrey (Photo Mary Anne McLaurin)

Headlining the main deck on the Friday night Cruise will be Nashville guitarist Rickey Godfrey and his band.

“Rickey is a consummate entertainer,” said Cape Fear Blues Society president Lan Nichols in a telephone interview. “He’s a master on guitar … and has a really emotional voice. Rickey reads his audience and knows exactly what to give.”

Godfrey, who has been blind since birth, has been nominated for both guitarist and keyboard player of the year by the Music City Blues Society. He’s touring now as a featured guitarist with the Cee Cee James Band, so this is a rare opportunity to see the Rickey Godfrey Blues Band.
Above the main deck, fans will be treated to the retro blues of Wilmington’s own wildly popular Ten Dollar Thrill. Up in the atrium will be acoustic storyteller Tampa Blue.

Cruisers will be noshing on heavy appetizers provided by Angie’s of Chris’s Restaurant and no doubt enjoying the three different cash bars.

Get to the Blues Cruise a little early so you can enjoy Rick Tobey on the dock before you board.

The boat departs promptly at 7:30 p.m., but be sure to get there early enough to enjoy blues veteran Rick Tobey singing his unique brand of Chickenhead blues on the dock before boarding.

The Henrietta III will return to dock by around 9:30, and you’ll want to head right over to  the Port City’s favorite blues saloon, the Rusty Nail, where The Treblemakers will be rockin’ the room with their electric blues/classic surf sounds!
Presented by the Cape Fear Blues Society, the Festival has a reputation for bringing top talent to town while it also showcases the best in local and regional blues artists.

According to Nichols, this year is no exception. Saturday begins with a free

Guitarist Eric Manning is presenting this year's blues workshop.

blues workshop conducted by Raleigh-based guitarist Eric Manning and sponsored by longtime Festival supporter Finkelstein Music. Following the workshop will be a performance, also free, by Manning’s band, E-Train & the Rusted Rails, at The Cellar in downtown Wilmington.

The Festival’s Saturday headliner is Studebaker John & the Hawks (The name refers to a Studebaker Hawk, a car he still owns).

“John is a triple threat,” said Nichols. “He plays great guitar, harmonica and has an excellent voice, too. He’s got a lot of old-school Chicago in his sound, but can rock out, too.”

Born in Chicago as John Grimaldi, he started playing harmonica at about seven years old, and was greatly influenced by Chicago’s famed Maxwell Street. He learned guitar after watching a single electrified slide guitar performance of Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers.

Studebaker John & the Hawks headline the Saturday night concert at the Rusty Nail. YAY!

Currently on tour through the U.S. and Canada, Studebaker John talked by phone about his newest CD, Studebaker John’s Maxwell Street Kings’ That’s the Way You Do (Delmark 2010). The 15-track recording is essentially a tribute to all the musicians who performed on Maxwell Street.

“It was a labor of love for me. I started thinking about it years ago, when I was on a bigger blues label, but they didn’t think it was commercial.

“Then last year, I was working at St. George Records, playing a session for Delta Slim, and these two musicians – Rick Kreher on guitar and Steve Cushing on drums – were there and I thought that maybe we could do it.

“The three of us were able to conjure up a sound.

“I wanted it to be a tribute, but still original.  It’s the same line-up as Hound Dog Taylor: two guitars, drum, and harmonica … I’ve always been a fan of Less Is More.”

His Rusty Nail show on Saturday night will include tunes from the new CD as well as the full band sound of Studebaker John & the Hawks.  Don’t miss this one!

Opening for Studebaker John, by the way, is local acoustic fave, Spider Mike Bochey, so get there early.

The Sunday blues jam starts at noon, and this is always a great event. There are a lot of great players in Wilmington, and they come out of the woodwork for this event, so get ready to be entertained. Bring a lawn chair, but leave your coolers home. There will be plenty of food and drink for sale.

The Jam ends at 6 p.m. with the Finkelstein Music Guitar Giveaway—a Gretsch Electromatic Pro Jet guitar ($850 value). Raffle tickets cost $1 each with proceeds supporting the projects and programs of the Cape Fear Blues Society.

Raffle tickets are available at Finkelstein Music and The Rusty Nail.

For more information about the Cape Fear Blues Festival visit http://www.capefearblues.org or call 910-350-8822.
©Dariel Bendin.

Festival Schedule
Friday, July 29
5:30 p.m. Live blues on the dock. (Water St. at Dock St.) Blues soloist Rick Tobey will  treat you to the blues,  Chickenhead style, as you wait to board.
7 p.m. Boarding begins.
7:30 p.m.  Blues Cruise on the Henrietta III! Headliner Rickey Godfrey brings his gritty, soulful blues to the main deck. Wilmington’s own Ten Dollar Bill will be rockin’ the party deck. Storyteller Tampa Blue will be in the atrium. Tickets are $49 (www.wilmingtontickets.com). Or call 910-350-8822.
9 p.m. Post-Cruise Party featuring The Treblemakers at the Rusty Nail, 1310 S. 5th Ave. (910-251-1888).
Saturday, July 30
11 a.m. Blues workshop sponsored by Finkelstein Music: blues guitarist/vocalist/ songwriter Eric Manning followed by an outdoor set of  jump blues and rockabilly from Manning’s band E-Train & the Rusted Rail at The Cellar, 35 N. Front St. Free.
8 p.m. Festival concert. Headliner Studebaker John & the Hawks. A night of electric blues from a Chicago legend. Opening act Spider Mike Bochey, at the Rusty Nail, 1310 S. 5th Ave. (910-251-1888). Tickets $8 advance/$10 at the door.(www.capefearblues.org or http://www.wilmingtontickets.com)
Sunday, July 31
Noon – 6 p.m. All-day blues jam under the tent at the Rusty Nail. Free.
6 p.m. Guitar raffle announced. Note: you don’t have to be on hand to win! Raffle tickets are $1 each or six for $5. A steal!

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2 Responses

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  1. Lan Nichols said, on July 13, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Dariel, thanks for doing what you do best – spotlighting the best entertainment in the region and digging deep into the background of these fine Blues artists. The Cape Fear Blues Festival welcomes everyone from the Grand Strand, NMB, Murrell’s Inlet, Little River and beyond. Come on up to Wilmington and enjoy the Blues with us!

  2. darielb said, on July 20, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Lan, Cape Fear Blues Society puts on a great show every year. I’m really looking forward to this one! Can’t wait to hear Studebaker John and his band; and you know I think Rickey Godfrey is in a class by himself! This will be the first time I’ll hear Eric Manning as well as the Treblemakers. Looking forward to all of it!!


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