The Fort Smith Riverfront Blues Society announced their lineup for the 26th annual Riverfront Blues Festival in downtown Fort Smith Arkansas. This year’s festival will be held June 24th and 25th at Harry E Kelly Park, 201 Riverfront Drive in Fort Smith.
Kicking off the party this year will be local duo Blues and Greens. Coming off a January appearance at the prestigious International Blues Challenge in Memphis Tennessee, the duo describes themselves at “Two guys who love the blues in lots of different flavors. Straight up, stripped down, nothing but the blues”. With Boyce Wofford on harmonica and vocals and multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Steve Dragos playing anything he can haul to the show, this entertaining duo will have you stomping your feet and begging for more.
Taking the stage next, and back by popular demand, is local favorite The Eric Mathews Band. Eric and his fellow musicians have competed in the International Blues Challenge and opened for about every touring blues band to come through the river valley the past three years. Their appearance at last year’s Riverfront Blues Festival brought rave reviews and had fans wanting to see them again. Always a blues purist, Eric brings smoking hot guitar licks to the stage wherever he plays.
Coming to you next from Jackson Mississippi we are proud to present The Mississippi Blues Child himself, Mr. Sipp. With a name like that how could you think you were going to get anything but lowdown, sweet delta blues. Winner of the 2014 International Blues Challenge and the 2014 Gibson Best Guitarist, Mr. Sipp and his trademark glasses have been touring the world ever since bringing his unique brand of blues to fans both young and old.
Wrapping up Friday night is yet another International Blues Challenge winner, Selwyn Birchwood. The 2013 IBC winner and Gibson Best Guitar Player is one of the rising young stars in the blues music world. Hailing from the state of Florida, Birchwood names the legendary Jimi Hendrix as one of his early inspirations so you know the music he makes is guitar heavy and powerful. His soulful voice has grown to be an amazing accompaniment to his guitar making him a very entertaining total package for festival goers.
Selwyn Birchwood Will Close Out Friday Night
Saturday night kicks off with another local favorite, Fat Head. As the winners of the local IBC competition this past winter, members Mike Huff, Hunter Smith, Mike Campbell and Sean Brinkman have quickly become one of the best blues bands in this part of the state. Twin guitars and smooth vocals characterize this amazing four-piece band that is sure to make their hometown crowd proud to call them their own.
Taking the stage next is Seattle native, now calling New Orleans home, Colin Lake. Lake’s latest album One Thing That’s For Sure is a stirring journey of highs and lows told with soul and gritty sincerity. With a stellar six-piece band behind him, Lake commands attention on the stage taking the audience on an unforgettable ride across the blues landscape.
Making the drive over from Memphis, Gracie Curran and The High Falutin’ Band are originally from Boston but don’t let the origins fool you. This gal will have you up on your feet thinking you’re in Memphis right from the first song. Her powerful vocals and high energy shows have fans and critics alike praising her. Touring almost non-stop since performing at the 2014 Blues Music Awards, Gracie and the guys are sure to be a crowd pleaser at this year’s festival.
Bringing us the Chicago blues vibe this year is Alligator Records artist Toronzo Cannon. Growing up in the blues mecca of Chicago, Cannon listened to blues legends Junior Wells, Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters and says he knew right then what he was going to do with his life. Traveling the world opening for the best artists in the blues genre have led Cannon to this current status as one of The Windy City’s best blues artists. With soulful lyrics and blazing guitar work, this is someone that you truly do not want to miss seeing.
Closing out this year’s festival is three-time Blues Music Award Winner and 2013 BB King Entertainer of the Year, Curtis Salgado. Known by insiders as the man that helped transform John Belushi into “Joliet” Jake Blues, Salgado has been praised as having exceptional range and muscular, powerful vocals. This combined with his mastery of the harmonica and ability to produce as well as write and sing makes him a truly well-rounded artist. NPR calls him a “blues icon” and many in the industry consider him to be an encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to soul, blues and R&B.
For more information, go to www.riverfrontbluesfest.org or visit the festival's Facebook page.
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