First of all, I want to thank you for such an awesome Blues Festival this year. Great music and a great time as usual. Thanks to everyone at the Mississippi Valley Blues Society and the sponsors who worked so hard making it happen. You did a great job!

I feel compelled this year to comment on your barricaded-off, VIP-only area at stagefront. What a disappointment and sadness to see. Having the front stage area for only privileged VIPs is so incongruous to what the blues are really all about and its roots. Howlin' Wolf and Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters and so many others weren't playing and singing about privileged life.

Everyone is a blues VIP! Most blues fests I attend allow all those who want to to get right up front and be close to the music ... to watch ... to dance ... to groove ... to take pictures, not just the privileged and the VIPS and those who "know the right person" or paid the right donation amount. It's just so incongruous to what blues music, its roots, and the enjoyment of the music are all about.

I will plead to your better judgement and decent sensibilities and ask that you rethink this practice and allow all persons access to front stage. No barricades. No special passes. No front-of-the-stage discrimination. Please. (If you must, then use backstage passes for those privilegeds, and keep the front stage accessible to all.)

Thank you for the chance to passionately comment on this very unfortunate policy, and I hope ... and pray ... for a change in this policy for next year ... and the years to come. You have a great event ... make it even better. Thank you.

Good blues to you all.

Jack Saltes

Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin

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