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The River Cities’ Reader’s Unofficial Guide to the 2004 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Feature Stories
Tuesday, 29 June 2004 18:00
For the 20th edition of the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, we’ve chosen to highlight a wide variety of performers as well as provide some historical perspective on the festival. Our coverage includes two acts who pretty much stick to the blues – Rod Piazza and W. C. Clark – but also looks outside the genre.

The Blind Boys of Alabama and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown are legendary performers who bristle at being pegged in a “blues” hole, and Reneé Austin has followed her own muse to incorporate other types of music into her blues. Charlie Musselwhite is a huge figure in the blues, of course, but his most recent albums mine the blues feeling as much as their structure.

“We purposely try to have a diverse lineup,” said Bob Covemaker, president of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society (MVBS) and co-chair of its entertainment committee. “There’s a lot to be excited about.”

The festival is celebrating its 20th year, along with a pair of other milestones: the 40-year anniversary of the Civil Rights Act – which the Davenport Civil Rights Commission will mark at a tent and on-stage – and the 80th birthday of the LeClaire Park bandshell. Furthermore, the fireworks show on Saturday night will be as big as any in recent Quad Cities history.

But above all else tower the performers. The MVBS increased its entertainment budget 20 percent this year, and the result is a lineup that rivals pretty much any other blues festival in the country. In addition to the people mentioned above, the schedule includes the legendary Taj Mahal, and the fest’s performers collected 14 W.C. Handy nominations this year alone.

Along with interviews with six festival performers, the Reader is also re-printing a story from its 1995 coverage that traces the humble origins of the event, and tells how it grew into one of the most respected blues festivals in the country.

In this issue you’ll also find a full schedule of performers for the 2004 festival, as well as a list of every act who’s ever played Blues Fest. When you look at the number and stature of those 400-plus performers, you’ll understand what a truly special event the Blues Festival is.

Fans wanting to sample the talent playing at this year’s festival should tune in to the Blues Bunker radio show on KALA 88.5 and 105.5 FM on Thursday, July 1, from 5 to 9 p.m. Host Steve Pedigo, a.k.a. DJ Kluiz, will be spinning tunes from this year’s lineup.

For full details on the 2004 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, visit (http://www.mvbs.org).
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