Earnest "Guitar" Roy, 6:30 p.m.

Earnest Roy Jr. was born on September 25, 1958, in Clarksdale, Mississippi, under the watchful eye of his father, guitarist Earnest Roy Sr., who worked with Jackie Brinston, Ike Turner, John Lee Hooker, Wade Walton, Raymond Hill, and many of the other Clarksdale bluesmen. Earnest's father taught him bass guitar at five, and when Earnest turned eight, he began playing in his father's band, Earnest Roy & the Clarksdale Rockers, whose members included Big Jack Johnson. At age 11, Earnest Jr. began playing lead guitar, and he formed his first band at 14, which led to his being regular performer on Soul Train.

Terry Quiett Band, 2 p.m.

As his Web site (TerryQuiettBand.com) says: "Terry Quiett explodes every power-trio cliché" by performing striking original material, from haunting Delta blues and sophisticated jazzy swing to rock-flavored riffs, all featuring his stunning guitar technique and soulful vocals. Hal Reed brought the Terry Quiett Band to The Muddy Waters, so we found out firsthand that his Web site doesn't exaggerate.

Bryce Janey, 2 p.m.

Bryce Janey grew up in a musical family and has been playing his guitar for almost 30 years. He started playing at 13 years old in his hometown of Marion, Iowa, in a blues trio with his mother on drums and his father also on guitar. They were simply named The Janeys. Both he and his father Billy Lee Janey are in the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They still perform as a four- or five-piece band called The Janeys; his mother no longer performs, but Bryce and Billy Lee still headline the band. Bryce also has a band of his own that performs under the name Bryce Janey Group.

Jeff Banks & the Pain Killers, 3 p.m.

Congratulations to the winners of the Iowa Blues Challenge: Jeff Banks & the Pain Killers! They emerged victorious from tough challenges by two Quad Cities bands - Serious Business and The Mississippi Misfits - at the final round in Des Moines in May.

The Pain Killers will represent the state of Iowa at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis next February. Besides their set at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, they will receive recording time and cash to help defray expenses in Memphis.

Winter Blues All-Stars, 3 p.m.

The Winter Blues All-Stars is a collaboration of graduates of the River Music Experience's Winter Blues program, led by Ellis Kell and Hal Reed. The kids have been practicing hard, so their set will be sure to amaze the audience!

David Horwitz (blues photography): Saturday, June 30, 2:30 p.m.

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. The winner of the 1999 Blues Foundation's Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Photography, David has spent more than 25 years capturing moments of the blues masters. His works have appeared in countless publications. Last year, he was inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame. This is his 25th year of shooting the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, and the free photo exhibit near the workshops will showcase David's work. - Ann Ring

This year's Mississippi Valley Blues Festival - co-sponsored by the River Cities' Reader - will be held July 1 through 3 in downtown Davenport's LeClaire Park. The event features 27 acts spread over two stages, and the music begins at 5 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

In the links that follow, you'll find interviews with five of this year's performers.

In addition, the full festival schedule can be found on the back page of this week's River Cities' Reader or at MVBS.org/fest.

Advance tickets - $17 for a single day and $50 for the weekend - are available through June 30 at the Adler Theatre box office, Ticketmaster outlets, and local Hy-Vee stores. Admission at the gate is $20 per day. Children 14 and younger are admitted free with a paid adult.

Paul Smoker

It would be hard to argue that acclaimed trumpet player and bandleader Paul Smoker isn't an ideal local-musician-makes-good choice for the 2011 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival. After all, the 70-year-old was raised in Davenport, performed in numerous Quad Cities nightclubs (starting at the tender age of 14), and earned four degrees from the University of Iowa, including a doctorate in music.

Granted, if you were feeling particularly quarrelsome, you could note that Smoker isn't a blues musician, as he freely admits. But while he and his bandmates - the four-man ensemble the Paul Smoker Notet - will be performing at this year's festival in the annual slot reserved for jazz artists, it's not as though the blues is a genre he's unpracticed in.

Nellie 'Tiger' TravisWhen Nellie "Tiger" Travis sang "Wang Dang Doodle" - Koko Taylor's signature hit - she could never hit the high notes in the chorus: "We gonna pitch a wang dang doodle all night long."

"I always did it down low," Travis said in a recent phone interview. Then came Taylor's funeral in 2009.

"I hit the high note for the first time ever," Travis said. "That day, it just came out like that. ... I do it all the time now. ... I can't explain it. I don't know if it was a spirit thing, or if I was just so full until it just came out ... . I just know I hit it now."

"Is he soul? Is he blues? Is he gospel? Yes, and he has become an iconic figure in all those genres." - Chicago Sun-Times

Otis Clay

"I've always been a bit open-minded about the music," Otis Clay said in a recent phone interview. He recalled that when he first went professional, he performed a genre of music called jubilee that included show tunes alongside gospel. "In the '60s we would be all up in the Catskills during the week, and do churches on Sunday. I had done secular even then. [But] I never left gospel. It was all mixed up in there."

That genre-blending had begun even before Clay - who will receive the Mississippi Valley Blues Society RiverRoad Lifetime Achievement Award before his July 3 festival performance - started touring when he was 18. Born in Waxhaw, Mississippi, in 1942, Clay started singing in the church at four, but even then he was also getting a different music education. "My father was an entrepreneur - he always had a juke joint, and my mother was very religious. But ... for the Saturday-night fish fries, she would cook and sell sandwiches," Clay said. There he would listen to John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Howlin' Wolf on the jukebox. He was seven years old when he experienced his first live concert: Muddy Waters in Clarksdale.