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Big Dam Blues

Big Dam Blues Party was just that, a big dam blues party!

It all came together in historic Argenta Saturday, September 25. The trifecta of BLUES, BBQ and a blues-loving crowd. You thought I was going to say beer, didn't you? That was a given. The Big Dam Blues Party was a joint effort by the AR River Blues Society, Blues for a Cause and KABF's Blues House Party to bring a blues festival to Central AR with top notch performers. Additionally, Big Dam Blues Party committed to showcasing the up and coming young blues players that are preserving the blues and making it their own.

It was the perfect day for a blues festival in Argenta at the Plaza. The crowd filtered in, ready for some blues and a big dam party. The festival kicked off, immediately following the Big Dam 100 Bicycle Tour. The opening slots were reserved for the winners of the AR River Blues Society Blues Competition held in August. The winners in the solo/duo and band categories will represent the AR River Blues Society in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge. Trey Johnson and Jason Willmon are the solo/duo winners. They kicked the festival off in perfect style. Trey, vocals and guitar, and Jason, harmonica, set the tone for the rest of the festival. They worked the crowd and had folks stomping their feet and clapping their hands. They were followed by the winners of the band category, John Calvin Brewer Band from Hot Springs. JCB Band had a false start due to a generator taking a quick break but were soon ripping it up on stage and whipping the crowd into blues nirvana. They rocked it out and left the crowd wanting more.

Charlotte Taylor and Gypsy Rain were next. Charlotte's voice is dynamic and soulful. Her band is tight. They were the perfect combination and the crowd was really into their set. Charlotte, and the band, have been playing the blues for several years and have competed in the International Blues Challenges and played many festivals in the South.

The future of the blues was present in The Peterson Brothers from Bastrop, Texas. Brothers Glenn, 18, and Alex, 16, are blues playing bad asses. Hands down. They blew the crowd away. Their talent has propelled them to appearances at numerous blues festivals across the country including the Chicago Blues Festival, King Biscuit Blues Festival and, now, the Big Dam Blues Party. They were easily the crowd favorites. Their music is an amazing mix of blues, soul, funk and jazz and they do credit to blues standards and shine on their originals. Besides being two incredibly nice young men, they are just fun to watch perform. Their smiles say it all, they are having fun in a big way. Nashville based Tullie Brae was a treat for the eyes and ears. Her powerful voice, funky outfit and skillful playing with her band resulted in a powerful set of soulful blues. The men were clamoring to get their pictures with Tullie.

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The headliner, Coco Montoya, was clearly ready to give the crowd what they were there for. Coco was the former drummer for blues legend Albert Collins. Collins mentored Coco and Coco learned all of the Collins blistering licks. A few years later he signed on with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. Coco, who plays left-handed and upside down was the perfect ending to a wonderful evening of fine blues music. Coco thrilled the crowd when he asked The Peterson Brothers to come up and play with him. The crowd enthusiastically welcomed that performance.

Chris Lathan Guitars and Blues Boy Jag Cigar Box Guitars each gave a hand made guitar to the Big Dam Blues Party for a raffle. Two lucky winners were thrilled to leave with a new, hand made guitar.

What a big dam blues party we had in Argenta and if you missed this, you missed a good one. Mark your calendars for September 24, 2016 when the Big Dam Blues Party will be partying again in Argenta.

Deb Finney
KABF Blues House Party

Photos by Jim Carpenter

"Nightflying down Hamburger Alley..."

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