The River Cities' Reader is proud to present the official guide to the 2014 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, taking place July 3 through 5 on Second Street between Main and Ripley streets in downtown Davenport.
Here you'll find the complete festival schedule, new interviews with six of the performers, older interviews with four additional artists, biographies (from the Mississippi Valley Blues Society) of all 27 acts, and more: ticket and general information, a letter from the Mississippi Valley Blues Society president, and biographies of workshop and BlueSKool presenters who won't be performing on the Tent or Bandshell stages. You can also pick up a copy of the official blues-festival guide in the June 26 issue of River Cities' Reader.
More information and tickets are available at the Mississippi Valley Blues Society Web site.
2014 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival Schedule
Thursday, July 3
5 p.m.: Johnny Kilowatt Band with Gloria Hardiman
7 p.m.: Doug Deming & Dennis Gruenling with The Jewel Tones
9 p.m.: Nick Moss Band
11 p.m.: Kim Simmonds & Savoy Brown
6 p.m.: The Mercury Brothers (Iowa Blues Challenge winners)
8 p.m.: 10 of Soul
10 p.m.: Ernie Peniston
Friday, July 4
3 p.m.: Dexter Allen
5 p.m.: Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch
7 p.m.: Tad Robinson
9 p.m.: Preston Shannon (2012 interview)
11 p.m.: George Thorogood & The Destroyers (2014 interview)
3 p.m.: Winter Blues All-Stars
4:30 p.m.: Margaret Murphy-Webb (2014 interview)
6 p.m.: Roy Book Binder (2014 interview)
8 p.m.: Anthony "Big A" Sherrod
10 p.m.: Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience (2013 interview)
2:30 p.m.: Roy Book Binder ("Gary Davis Blues")
4 p.m.: Tad Robinson (harmonica technique)
5:30 p.m.: David Horwitz (blues photography)
7 p.m.: Terrance Simien (history of zydeco)
3:30 p.m.: David Berntson (free harmonicas and lessons for kids)
4:45 p.m.: Terrance Simien ("Creole for Kidz")
6 p.m.: Winter Blues Kids (moderated by Ellis Kell and Bret Dale)
Saturday, July 5
3 p.m.: Little Bobby Houle
5 p.m.: Jamiah "On Fire" & The Red Machine
6:45 p.m.: Doris Pierre Memorial Outstanding Volunteer Awards
7 p.m.: Albert Castiglia
9 p.m.: Curtis Salgado (2014 interview)
11 p.m.: Tinsley Ellis (2008 interview)
3 p.m.: The Westbrook Singers (2014 interview)
4:30 p.m.: Terry "Harmonica" Bean & Jimmy Duck Holmes
6 p.m.: Jarekus Singleton (2014 interview)
7:45 p.m.: RiverRoad Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Eddie Shaw
8 p.m.: Eddie Shaw & The Wolfgang
10 p.m.: Deanna Bogart (2005 interview)
2:30 p.m.: Terry "Harmonica" Bean and Jimmy Duck Holmes (Mississippi blues)
4 p.m.: Michael "Hawkeye" Herman ("Tales of the Blues")
5:30 p.m.: Eddie Shaw & Eddie "Vaan" Shaw ("Sax & the Wolf Gang")
7 p.m.: Deanna Bogart (boogie-woogie piano and saxophone)
3:30 p.m.: David Berntson (free harmonicas and lessons for kids)
4:45 p.m.: Winter Blues Kids (moderated by Ellis Kell and Bret Dale)
6 p.m.: Michael "Hawkeye" Herman ("The Blues Had a Baby")
Tickets and General Information
• The Mississippi Valley Blues Society announced on June 30 that the festival was, because of flooding, moving from its scheduled location in LeClaire Park to a new location on Second Street between Main and Ripley streets.
• Thursday, July 3: $10 admission at the gate.
• Friday, July 4, and Saturday, July 5: $20 advance tickets, $25 at the gate.
• Advance tickets are available through June 30 at Hy-Vee stores in the Quad Cities, Clinton, and Muscatine; The Muddy Waters (1708 State Street, Bettendorf); Co-Op Records (3727 Avenue of the Cities, Moline); Ragged Records (418 East Second street, Davenport); and the Mississippi Valley Blues Society office (102 South Harrison Street, Davenport; call 563-322-5837 first).
• Children 14 and under are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult.
• Gates open a half-hour before the first performance each day.
• No coolers or pets.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival. Earlier this year, the international Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee, recognized the festival with its Keeping the Blues Alive award - the equivalent of a lifetime honor - for, in its words, "one of the longest-running, most-prestigious blues festivals in the world." The festival is the only major blues event in the United States entirely produced by an all-volunteer organization.
Free Photo Exhibit
Photographers from all over the world showcase their best works of art at the free photo exhibit, which will be in the performance hall on the second floor of the River Music Experience in the Redstone Building (131 West Second Street). This year features a retrospective of Mississippi Valley Blues Festivals. It's open from 2:30 to 8 p.m. on July 4 and 5.
A Note on the T-Shirt Design by Designer Glenn Cotabish
As we reach the 30th anniversary of the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, the design was meant to honor many of the great festival artists who have passed away. The artists are depicted on a postage-stamp design. By remembering these artists, it allows us to think back to what a special event we have had over the past 30 years.
The artists pictured are Johnny Clyde Copeland, Albert Collins, Gatemouth Brown, John Cephas, Koko Taylor, Honeyboy Edwards, Little Milton, John Jackson, Robert Junior Lockwood, Pinetop Perkins, R.L. Burnside, Ann Rabson, Jessie Mae Hemphill, and Bobby Blue Bland. In addition to the photos of these artists, at the top center are images of the iconic LeClaire Park Bandshell - which has been the home for most of our festivals - and the Keeping the Blues Alive Award presented to the Mississippi Valley Blues Society this year.
The design would not have been possible without the wonderful photos submitted by John L. Greenwood. Additional photos came from Dennis Fretty (the Bandshell image) and me (the Keeping the Blues Alive award, John Cephas, and Ann Rabson).
RiverRoad Lifetime Achievement Award
The purpose of the MVBS RiverRoad Lifetime Achievement Award is to honor those artists who have devoted their lives to bringing "river" blues - music that runs deep with emotion, like a river of the soul - to anyone they meet on life's highway. The Mississippi Valley Blues Society Entertainment Committee chooses as recipients of the RiverRoad award those bluesmen and -women who might not have been as recorded, recognized, or acclaimed as the "stars" but who are the true legends of the blues and the art form's "living history."
This year's recipient of the RiverRoad Lifetime Achievement Award is Eddie Shaw, a Mississippi sax man who came to Chicago and became Howlin' Wolf's bandleader. He will be honored at a ceremony on Saturday, July 5, at 7:45 p.m. on the Tent Stage.
BlueSKool is a special area where children are encouraged to carry on the blues tradition through hands-on lessons. BlueSKool will be held in Falbo Bros. Pizzeria on the first floor of the Redstone Building (131 West Second Street). Veteran blues musicians and educators help the participants learn the history of the blues as well as how to play the blues. Each child goes home with a free harmonica in one session, and youngster graduates of the River Music Experience's Winter Blues program show how to put together a blues band in another.
Workshops on topics ranging from how to play an instrument to blues history to stories of blues musicians give adults the opportunity to learn from the true blues masters. The workshops are presented in the performance hall on the second floor of the River Music Experience in the Redstone Building (131 West Second Street). The workshops are scheduled for 2:30 to 8 p.m. on July 4 and July 5.
Welcome from the MVBS President
Let me take this opportunity to officially welcome you to the Mississippi Valley Blues Society's 30th-annual blues festival. This year's event is the culmination of thousands of hours of effort by the MVBS board and its countless volunteers who have worked tirelessly to bring this event to you. As such, we hope that you enjoy our event as much as we enjoy bringing it to you.
Thank you for your attendance and continued support of our organization and its mission of advancing blues music through educational outreach, performance, interpretation, and preservation. Simply put, it is only through your dedication and continued financial support that our organization exists and that this art form that we all love is allowed to thrive. Again, we thank you.
This year's festival has an amazing musical lineup that is world-class in its breadth and depth. The lineup features local, regional, national, and international blues heavyweights who aim to both excite and inspire generations of festival-goers through their mastery of the art form. Also, please be sure to take a few moments to visit BlueSKool in LeClaire Park and the free workshops in the Freight House and enjoy the opportunity to play, listen to, and learn the blues with the best of blues artists.
If there is anything that we, as an organization, can do for you to make your festival experience more enjoyable, please don't hesitate to contact us directly, and we will do whatever we can to make that request a reality. Furthermore, we as an organization are always looking for new board members, committee members, and volunteers. If you love the blues and want to see it continue to thrive in our area, please take this opportunity to get involved. We have plenty of opportunities for you to make your contribution felt.
Thanks again for your participation in our event and your continued support of our mission.
President, Mississippi Valley Blues Society
Workshop and BlueSKool Presenters
Blues Photography Workshop: 5:30 p.m. Friday
Photographer and educator David Horwitz of Tucson, Arizona, has been traveling to clubs and festivals for decades in search of great blues music for his ears and visual images to capture on film. Winner of the 1999 Blues Foundation's Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Photography, David has spent more than 30 years capturing moments of the blues masters. His works have appeared in countless publications.
Michael "Hawkeye" Herman
"Tales of the Blues" Workshop: 4 p.m. Saturday
"The Blues Had a Baby" BlueSKool: 6 p.m. Saturday
Michael "Hawkeye" Herman performs a wide variety of traditional blues, ballads, swing, and original tunes, on six- and 12-string guitar, and is an adept practitioner of slide guitar and slide mandolin. In this workshop, Hawkeye will present songs and stories from the many iconic blues masters he met and learned directly from: Brownie McGhee, Lightnin' Hopkins, Bukka White, Furry Lewis, Son House, Mance Lipscomb, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Sam Chatmon, T-Bone Walker, K.C. Douglas, Jesse "Lone Cat" Fuller, John Jackson, Charles Brown, "Cool Papa" Sadler, and others.
Harmonica BlueSKool: 3:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Originally from Galesburg, Illinois, this Tulsa, Oklahoma, Blues Club founder, prevention educator, and drug/alcohol counselor continually shares his enthusiasm and passion for the blues with young people and adults. David Berntson presents Blues in the Schools at a number of schools, including alternative schools for at-risk students. Look out when he digs out his gigantic harmonica! His passion and love for kids is unstoppable, and he leaves kids of all ages with something more than what they came with. David is an endorsee for Hohner harmonicas and has taught harmonica classes through adult continuing education at Tulsa Community College for more than a decade. He also teaches children's harmonica classes for the Tulsa parks-and-recreation department. David's BlueSKool sessions feature free harmonicas and lessons for all the kids! - Ann Ring