Cape Fear Blues Festival
All over Wilmington!
July 29-31 • Fri/Sat pass: $49
Sun, free • Blues Cruise: $49
Back in its 16th year, the Cape Fear Blues Society’s annual Cape Fear Blues Festival brings the best bands from across the country together for a fantastic summer weekend on the river. This feast for most senses brings sights, sounds, smells and tastes of a true Southern experience. Lan Nichols, director of the festival, said the CFBF is a unique staple in Wilmington as the only true blues festival on the coast.
“What’s significant about the Cape Fear Blues Festival is that it’s about one genre of music, and that’s blues,” Nichols says. “You can always go to festivals in town that are wonderful, but no other festival combines local acts with out-of-town and national touring talent like the [CFBF].”
This three-day festival draws people to the downtown waterfront every year, but this time the festival will branch out into surrounding clubs more so than utilize outdoor venues, as its done in the past at Battleship Park or Greenfield Lake. According to Nichols, the CFBF will use the interiors (and the AC) of The Rusty Nail and The Cellar not only to avoid the summer heat, but because the clubs’ ambiance evokes a certain mood crucial to the smoke-infused sounds of heartache and ragged societal observations.
“We’ve done an outside tented event for 15 years with a great degree of success,” he says, “but we wanted to turn around and take the music indoors because that’s ultimately where the music belongs. People [typically] go out to clubs to hear blues; standing by our local club scene is something we thought was important.”
The festival begins Friday evening when Rick Tobey plays his “Chickenhead Blues” at the dock of the Henrietta III at 5:30 p.m. Then, Nashville guitarist Rickey Godfrey and his band will rock the main deck of the riverboat for the Blues Cruise. Godfrey will play simultaneously with Ten Dollar Thrill on the party deck, as Tampa Blue takes over the atrium. A heavy hors d’ouevre buffet and three cash bars will open on three decks of the boat. Afterward, a post-cruise blues party landlocks itself at The Rusty Nail. The show will be rollicking thanks to Tampa Bay quartet (sometimes sextet) The Treblemakers.
On Saturday morning, everyone is invited to The Cellar for a blues workshop led by blues guitarist and songwriter virtuoso Eric Manning. Manning will share stories of his musical adventures and travels, followed by an outdoor concert from his band E-Train and The Rusted Rails.
Later in the evening, blues-lovers will want to return to The Rusty Nail to see Chicago-based band Studebaker John and The Hawks, who Nichols described as “the most creative ensemble in blues music today.” Studebaker John ranked third on the Living Blues Radio Chart and number one on “B.B. King’s Bluesville Picks To Click for the Week” of March 5, 2011 on XM Sirius Radio. His musicality tips its hat to great street musicians like Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters.
The last day of the festival boasts an All-Day Blues Jam at The Rusty Nail. It will be the quintessential end to the weekend’s heavy riffing hands, as it features the region’s finest musicians coming together for a day of live music, fun and fantastic food from festival vendors.
Friday, July 29th
Blues Cruise, aboard Henrietta III, 7:30 p.m. Featuring music by Rickey Godfrey, Ten Dollar Thrill and Tampa Blue. Board off Water and Dock streets.
Post-cruise blues party at The Rusty Nail, 1310 S 5th Street, 9 p.m. Featuring The Treblemakers.
Saturday, July 30th
Blues workshop at The Cellar, 16 Princess Street, 11 a.m. Free educational workshop for all ages with noted NC blues guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Eric Manning, who will explain technique, talk about his influences and play some music. Manning’s band, E-Train and The Rusted Rails perform a free show following the workshop.
Blues concert at The Rusty Nail, 8 p.m. Featuring the electric blues from Studebaker John and the Hawks. Also, acoustic blues from Spider Mike Bockey!
Sunday, July 31st
All-day blues jam at the Rusty Nail, noon. The region’s blues musicians play together under a tent at the Rusty Nail. Food vendors will be on hand, drinks will be sold onsite.
Guitar giveaway takes place at 6 p.m., sponsored by Finkelstein Music. Raffling off a Gretsch guitar to support the Cape Fear Blues Society. Tickets $1 or six for $5, available at any Cape Fear Blues Jam, Finkelstein Music or The Rusty Nail. Need not be present to win.