This year the Cape Fear Blues Festival is celebrating its fifteenth birthday and it will be another birthday bash to write home about. From July 23 – 25, Wilmington, N.C. will be full of blues fans ready to take in one great show after another.
The Festival opens Friday night with the traditional Blues Cruise aboard the triple deck Henrietta III riverboat at the corner of Water Street and Dock. The two-hour party along the Cape Fear will be rockin’ with performances by Bill “Sauce Boss” Wharton and his band. The only thing hotter than his slide guitar is his Liquid Summer Hot Sauce. I want me some of both! Locals Dusty Long & Friends and Rick Tobey will be adding to the fun, and don’t forget to check out Spider Mike Bochey as you board.(Tickets $49).
Over at the Rusty Nail, the Dynamic Thermotones will take the stage at 9 p.m. for a night of blues-driven R&B. And don’t be surprised if things get funky! Love this band! The Rusty Nail, located at 1310 South 5th St., is a typical little juke joint, and one of my faves. It’s home to Wilmington’s weekly blues jam. Call the club at 910-251-1888 for ticket info (Tickets $5).
Saturday’s the big day and the festival concert is moving back to Legion Stadium under the tent. Yay! This year, according to everyone’s blues buddy, Festival organizer Lan Nichols, there will be five blues acts starting at noon and going pretty much nonstop until almost 7 p.m. Here’s the lineup: Mac Arnold & Plate Full ‘O Blues, Jen & Tonic, Tampa Blue, the Cape Fear Blues Jam Band and Blind Lemon Pledge.
Mac Arnold has toured and recorded with the Muddy Waters Band. You will love the funked up soul-blues of Mac Arnold & Plate Full ‘O Blues.
Jen & Tonic is a group I’ve been wanting to see live. They put out a great blend of classic blues and soul, throwing in some contemporary stuff just to mix it up.
If you’re into finger-style guitar and acoustic blues, you’ll especially enjoy the soulful sound of Florida’s Tampa Blue.
Local Wilmington group Blind Lemon Pledge, although fairly new to the scene, was the 2009 Cape Fear Blues Challenge winner. They feature Jaime Michele on lead vocals and Mark Scott on guitar and vocals. Last, but not least, is local favorite Cape Fear Blues Jam Band.
By the way, parking is free. You’ll find plenty of food and drink vendors, restrooms and even games for the kids. Don’t forget your lawn chairs and blankets. (Tickets $12 advance/$15 at the gate).
Saturday night, there’s another shindig at the Rusty Nail, this time with the ever-popular Ten Dollar Thrill. And they are thrilling. (Tickets $5).
The all-day Sunday Blues Jam is at Legion Stadium and it’s always a blast. Here’s a chance to play on the Festival main stage with some of the best players the area has to offer. You know the drill: no coolers, no pets. Just bring your lawn chairs and get ready to groove.
Before I forget, this year’s Festival blues workshop (Finkelstein Music, 6 S. Front St.), Saturday, 11 a.m., will be Theresa Blue performing her unique blend of blues, folks and Americana. Otherwise known as Theresa Lindstrom, she’s the throaty voice of divorced blue collar moms everywhere. Careful, she’ll grab your heart when you’re not looking. Call 910-762-5662. (Free event).
The Festival ends at 6 p.m. with the Finkelstein Music Guitar Giveaway. This year, it’s a Squier (by Fender) Vintage Modified Telecaster Thinline guitar. Raffle tickets, which are available at Finkelstein’s, cost just $1 each or six for $5; Ticket info at www.capefearblues.org.