Photo by David Gomez, courtesy of JohnMayall.com
Heart and Soul
Blues Weekend, June 14-17
Photo courtesy of CarolynWonderland.com
Blues Weekend slides into Eureka Springs, June 14-17
If you haven’t heard any good live music in a while, don’t be blue. The Eureka Springs Blues Weekend, held from June 14-17, has something for every music fan, with three jam-packed days of soulful sounds rocking the city.
Andy Green, events coordinator for the Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission, is a big fan of blues. Green said this year’s festival has a variety of acts, from award-winning musicians to local favorites. The performances will take place at several different places in town, giving visitors the chance to choose the way they want to experience music.
“There’s at least eight different places you can go and see music,” Green said. “If you like your music in a small dark room, you can get that. If you want your music out in the sun in the open fresh air, you can get that too. There’s a little bit of something for everybody.”
Another benefit of so many locations, Green said, is the exposure to other parts of the city.
“It helps encourage people who are visiting Eureka Springs to see more of the community than just one stage set in one field,” Green said. “It gets people out and around. It’s important to encourage people to visit as much as they can.”
The weekend starts with Coyote Claw and Shelly King playing shows on Thursday night, followed by performances from John Nemeth, Mark Shields and Good Company and Patrick Sweany on Friday. Saturday is when the show really kicks off, Green with, with music starting at 1 p.m. and ending late at night. Saturday’s acts include Blew Reed and the Flatheads, Shawn Davis and the Blackties, Brick Fields, Earl and Them, Scott Garner and the Speedshift and Los Roscoes. The headlining performance takes place that night in The Auditorium, featuring blues legend John Mayall and renowned artist Carolyn Wonderland.
Photo courtesy of CarolynWonderland.com
Green has been a fan of blues since he can remember, and Mayall is one of his favorite artists.
“John’s been playing blues longer than I’ve been alive,” Green said. “His blues record in the early ’60s was probably one of the first blues records I ever bought. That was over 50 years ago.”
Wonderland is quite the wonder herself.
“Carolyn is a very accomplished young guitar player,” Green said. “She’s a killer singer-songwriter. She’s opening for John, and she’s also going to join John and play with his band.”
That performance is the one he’s most looking forward to, Green said.
“I’m really excited to see John and Carolyn on the same stage and paying together, because we’re talking about literally three generations of music,” Green said. “John could be Carolyn’s grandfather — he’s been doing it that long — and she represents the young blues artists. He’s a legend, and I think she will be too, if she isn’t already.”
On Sunday, the music moves to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, where Tom Baker will perform at 1 p.m. Baker has a special treat for the young people in the audience.
“He’s giving away 50 harmonicas to the first 50 kids that come,” Green said.
Other performances on Sunday include Tom Redman, Fast Johnny Ricker and a group jam. Overall, Green said, he’s excited to see how the weekend goes.
“There’s a mixture of experiences and venues to see one of the great American art forms,” Green said.
Blues music is so great, Green said, because of the way people connect to it.
“Of all the musical art forms, blues has a tendency to reach right into your soul and grab you,” Green said. “I think everybody experiences that a little bit differently, but it really is an emotional experience. It resonates with a lot of people. It’s very honest and emotional.”
He continued, “It’s the building blocks of American music. This is the music that was played in the streets and in the fields, especially in this part of the world. It was a very rural form of music. It can be played with very little formal training.”
He might be biased, but Green said Eureka Springs is one of the best places to experience the blues.
“Eureka Springs is a wonderful place to see any music or experience art. It’s a tremendous environment, and I think with the lineup we have … there’s a whole range of musicians this year,” Green said. “I think we’ve given a serious blues fan a reason to come to Eureka Springs, and that’s really the focus of that … not just to celebrate the art form, but to see Eureka Springs.