The Johnny Kilowatt Band with Gloria Hardiman, 5 p.m.

We have a great opener for the 30th-annual Mississippi Valley Blues Festival! The Johnny Kilowatt Band featuring Gloria Hardiman will get your blues blood pumping!

Jon Klinkowitz, a two-decade veteran of the Iowa blues scene, is the frontman and guitarist for the Johnny Kilowatt Band from Iowa City.

Klinkowitz was a founding member of the Blues Instigators and played with the group from 1990 to 1995, during which time the band won the University of Iowa RiverFest Battle of the Bands (in 1994) and the inaugural Iowa Blues Challenge (in 1995). The band backed Bo Diddley in 1993 and played the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in 1993 and the Iowa City Jazz Festival in 1995. During Klinkowitz's tenure, the band opened for Lonnie Brooks and Rod Piazza at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago and appeared on the syndicated television show Chicago Blues Jam. Klinkowitz formed the Johnny Kilowatt Band in the late 1990s; other members include fellow Blues Instigators alumnus Ed English on bass, Tim Crumley on drums, Bill Peterson on keyboards, and veteran jazz musician Saul Lubaroff on sax.

The Mercury Brothers, 6 p.m.

Congratulations to the Mercury Brothers for winning the 2014 Iowa Blues Challenge! The Quad Cities band first beat out the competition in a local round and then in the final round in Des Moines for the opportunity to represent the entire state of Iowa at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis next January. This band is tight and professional, and includes some of the best musicians in the Midwest.

Make sure you bring your dancing shoes for this set by the best band in Iowa! The Mercury Brothers play original blues, R&B, soul, and roots music as well as covers that sound like their own. They pull from deep repertoire of artists from the Blasters to The "5" Royales.

Dexter Allen, 3 p.m.

I had the luxury of seeing Dexter Allen for the first time in 2011, at the Windy City's blues festival. I heard an amazing musician! Someone turned to me and said, "That's Dexter Allen, the Blues Man from Mississippi." Dexter was born in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, the son of a preacher. His grandpa was a deacon. Dexter began playing guitar at the age of 10, and thumping the bass at the age of 12.

Winter Blues All-Stars, 3 p.m.

The Winter Blues All-Stars is composed of talented young musicians selected from the River Music Experience's Winter Blues program. The annual Winter Blues program features vocal and instrumental workshops (guitar, bass, harmonica, keyboards, and drums), as well as a concentration on blues composition and improvisation. These sessions are open to musicians from eight to 18 years of age and are led by Ellis Kell of the River Music Experience and Hal Reed of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society, with other veteran blues musicians from the region as special guests.

Little Bobby Houle, 3 p.m.

Bobby Houle makes his home in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. He is a third-generation musician who was born on Red Lake Reservation and eventually followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, Robert "Bashful Bob" Houle - a member of the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame and National Rockabilly Hall of Fame - and father, Robert Houle Jr.

A self-taught musician like his elders, Bobby began playing guitar in high school. He wasn't exactly following in his grandfather's and father's footsteps of country music. Bobby said, "I don't know how I fell into the blues, but once I did I was hooked on it. I love playing the blues, because each performance will be different from the previous performance."

In 2005 Little Bobby released his first CD, Before the Storm. Later that year he landed a spot on the Last Ride Blues Festival in his hometown, and Buddy Guy was the headliner. What a way to kick off a blues career!

The Westbrook Singers, 3 p.m.

The Westbrook Singers are an extraordinary family group that is committed to spreading God's message through music - in a style that is both contemporary and traditional. The origin of this seasoned group dates back to the mid-'70s, when 11 siblings came together to complement a ministry that began with their father some 20 years earlier. Thus, the children of Bishop Charles B. and Barbara Westbrook came to be known as The Original Westbrook Singers.

Over the years, the group has changed in its makeup but not in its focus. Today, only four of the siblings continue in performance roles, though appearances by other siblings are not rare. They are Brenda Westbrook-Lee, Delores Westbrook-Tingle, Gary Westbrook, and Cynthia Westbrook-Bryson.

Photos from the 2013 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, held July 4 through 6 in downtown Davenport.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Photo by Matt Erickson,

Mighty Sam McClain. Photo by Matt Erickson,

After the River Cities' Reader's official guide to the 2013 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival went to press, the Mississippi Valley Blues Society announced that the festival was being moved from LeClaire Park to Second Street in downtown Davenport because of flooding:

Mississippi Valley Blues Festival organizers have finalized the site for the July 4-6 event in downtown Davenport. The 29th Mississippi Valley Blues Festival will take place on Second Street. Bandshell acts will perform on an east-facing stage near Ripley Street. Tent Stage acts will perform in the courtyard area just east of the River Music Experience at Second and Main. BlueSKool will be held on the River Music Experience's Community Stage, and workshops and the photo exhibit will be held in the River Music Experience's upstairs Exhibit Hall.

If you're an amateur guitarist hoping to turn pro, particularly one with an affinity for blues rock, you could certainly choose lesser talents to emulate than Kenny Wayne Shepherd. The 37-year-old musician, after all, has been already nominated for five Grammy Awards, has won two Blues Music Awards and two Billboard Music Awards, and was once named the world's third-finest blues guitarist by Guitar World magazine, with only B.B. King and Eric Clapton ranking higher.

If, however, you're an amateur guitarist who feels that the world of professional music will forever be out of reach due to your inability to actually read music, don't let that dissuade you from following your dream. It turns out that Kenny Wayne Shepherd doesn't read music, either.

"Yeah, I still play by ear," says Shepherd, who unofficially began his career as a self-taught guitarist at the tender age of seven. "I used to have to sound songs out one note at a time until I got from the beginning to the end of it. It was kind of a tedious process in the beginning, but you know, it's gotten easier over the years. Modern technology is a big help now, because I can just record things on my iPhone, but yeah - I just play what sounds good, and then I just have to remember it."

"Anyway, that's just some of the stuff," the soul-blues singer Mighty Sam McClain said to me in a recent phone interview. "You're a good listener."

He'd been talking, nonstop, for 31 minutes, responding to the simplest of opening questions: "What have you been up to?" After the compliment he paid me, he chattered for another 39 minutes, with just a few questions to prompt him.

Admittedly, the man has a lot to talk about.

He left his home in Louisiana at age 13 to escape an abusive stepfather. "He hit me a couple times," McClain said. "He hit me in the head with a hammer. Once. Then he hit me with a walking stick. So I was getting ready to kill him. I really was. He was a hunter. And there were guns all over the house. ... I thought about doing it."

Instead, he said, "I crawled out the window, and I didn't look back."

He then hooked up with Little Melvin Underwood, initially as a roadie and by age 15 - in the late 1950s - as a singer.