Upon reading your article "What Next for the Blues Fest?", here are my thoughts:

First, in the early years, the Blues Fest mainly booked local and area acts. Many good musicians rehearsed for hours to give excellent performances for very small compensation. There was no admission at the gate, the festival bands pleased the crowds, and, thanks to selfless musicians and organizers such as Jason Stuart (now of Cobalt Blue), the thrill was definitely there.

Then the fest grew, and many more-expensive national acts were booked, thus replacing most of the local acts. At some point, a local band pretty much had to win an Iowa Blues Challenge to be accepted as a Blues Fest act. Most of the good performance times (later in the day) were given to the national acts. Featuring more local blues musicians and bands would definitely be in alignment with the Mississippi Valley Blues Society's charter of fostering education and keeping the blues alive. So why not book more local acts, but pay them better for their efforts and support?

It is never wise to spend more than you are bringing in. So why not scale back? Make the fest a day shorter until it builds. Many excellent and supportive local musicians that have been edged out of the festival could be resentful. It may not be easy to win back their support and participation, but it's worth a try. Let's begin by hiring and even honoring local musicians such as Jason Stuart who helped build the Mississippi Valley Blues Fest.

Every article I've read concentrates on the negative effects of weather, flooding, and lax fundraising. Yes, these are important, but as restructuring of the fest occurs, others factors need to be considered.

The thrill may be gone, but just for now.

Larry Huntley
Local Blues Fest participant and fan of the blues