This page links to the River Cities' Reader's complete coverage of the 2012 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, including new interviews with seven of this year's performers and biographies of each artist.

Ticket information is here. The welcome letter from the Mississippi Valley Blues Society president is here. Biographies of workshop and BlueSKool leaders who are not performing on either the Bandshell or Tent stages are here.

Bobby RushWhen Blues Music Award winner Bobby Rush takes the stage at this year's Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, he'll be doing so in a concert set titled "The Double Rush Revue," so named because, as he says, "I've got one part of the show I'm doing with the band, and the next part I'm gonna strip down - just me and my guitar."

It won't be the first time the 76-year-old blues artist has stripped down for a gig.

Kelley HuntWhile listening to Kelley Hunt perform - the singer/songwriter's joyously smoky, soulful blues vocals a perfect match for her funky and fiery piano skills - it's easy to imagine that the Kansas-based musician never lacked for confidence. As she admits during our recent phone interview, though, she actually did. She just didn't tell anyone.

"When I was about 17, I was in a band with my brother's friends, and these were older guys - like 21 or whatever," says Hunt with a laugh. "I wasn't singing at all; I was just playing these keyboards that they had. And one night we were playing for an event at the college in Emporia, where I grew up, and we were being paid, and the gal that was supposed to sing just did not show up. And it was time to start, and the guys looked at me and just said, 'Oh my God, we hope you can sing.'

"I was pretty much horrified," she continues. "I mean, I knew I could, because I was doing it in school, but never in this kind of setting. So at that moment, I just made a conscious decision: 'I'm going to pretend like I'm all about this, and I'm going to pretend like I'm not scared out of my gourd.' And I just slammed it out for a couple hours, and I remember thinking, 'Well, (a) nobody here even knows there's anything different, (b) the singer's fired, and (c) I now get paid twice as much.'"

Laughing, Hunt says, "I just stepped into it brazenly and naïvely, and just assumed that it would all work out."

Lady BiancaLady Bianca. Her very name suggests confidence and brio and more than a hint of glamor, qualities that are readily apparent in the artist's soulful, soaring renderings of blues originals and covers, and that led Blues Revue magazine to call her "a great talent whose hearty, refreshing approach tugs at the heart while moving the feet." (For a quick, thrilling introduction to Lady Bianca's gifts, check out her performances of "Ooh, His Love Is So Good" - from her 1995 debut album Best Kept Secret - and Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel," both viewable on YouTube.)

So when you learn that Lady Bianca (born Bianca Thornton) was given her stage moniker at age 17 - a name bestowed on her by the noted San Francisco-based bluesman Quinn Harris, for whom she sang backup - you might think that even then she boasted the electrifying magnetism and blues-fueled assurance that she does now at age 58.

"Oh, no," she says, with a laugh, during our recent phone interview. "Quinn Harris named me Lady Bianca because I was so square."

Matthew Curry & the Fury, 6:30 p.m.

The party starts here! Matthew Curry is a teenage phenom from Normal, Illinois, who plays guitar, writes songs, and sings. He is backed by the Fury - veteran performers Greg Neville on drums and Jeff Paxton on bass.

In 2011, Matthew was awarded second place (first was taken by a Tommy Castro collaboration) in the International Songwriting Competition for his composition "Blinded by the Darkness," a slow, Chicago-sounding blues that features his Clapton-like guitar melodies. The song is included on the 2011 debut CD for Matthew Curry & the Fury, If I Don't Got You.

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 ( 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!