Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, 27 Years Strong

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The  27th Annual Mississippi Blues Festival, held in LeClair Park in downtown Davenport, Iowa, consisted of 3 days of the nation’s best musical talent. Day 1 kicked off with Linsey Alexander, Linsey’s  Chicago based blues and R&B paved the way for the people who were as hot as linsey’s music.With temperatures in the 90’s,  some choose to escape the direct effect of the sun with Jimmy Burns in the tent stage. All told,both ends of the park were off and cookin. Iowa’s own  Kevin B.F. Burt played the tent with his unique mixture of R&B and Blues. Also making an appearance under the tent were Johnny Nicholas, The Way of the Blues Revue and world music/blues/funk/rock singer ,Harper.

The festival, the only blues festival in the U.S. run strictly by volunteers, stayed pretty much on schedule. The organizers left room between acts that allowed for some extended encores and the usual technical difficulties.

Guitar prodigy Eric Gales was greeted by a loyal following. Many had been Eric Gales devotees since he debuted in 1991 with The Eric Gales Band.  Although there were cries of “play the blues Eric,” Eric stayed on track, covering material from his 2010 CD, “Relentless.” Eric often is compared to Jimi Hendrix, due in part to his upside down left handed playing, did not let his set close without his version of “Voodoo Child.”

The high energy of Dwayne Dopsie & The Hellraisers were with a out a doubt one of the most interactive  bands.  All over You Tube, in part due to the combination of Dwayne on accordion and Alex McDonald on washboard,  they left the stage to lead a dixieland style march in the crowd, as well a impromptu jam in the photo pit.

The buzz of the festival came from 25 year old Ryan McGarvey. Not long after he took the stage his Texas (Ryan is from New Mexico) guitar  slinger sounds reached the ears of many at the festival for the first time. Soon the front of the stage was packed with many texting or tweeting their new found guitar hero. A testimony to his popularity …his case of CDs sold out before he left the stage. Look for a return appearance.

Joe Louis Waker ‘s performance was a personal favorite, as Joe featured Murali Coryell on guitar. Murali is the son of renowned jazz guitarist Larry Coryell. The band was covered in large Mayflies during their set, which wer drawn to the stage lights. Regardless of the flies, Joe and Murali proved to be the formable duo, worthy of their backgrounds.

Amidst the two stages, the Mississippi Blues Festival also had workshops that presented introductions to blues harmonica and drumming, as well as a blues photo exhibit  for all ages.

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society covered all the bases to make it a real family friendly event. Vendors provided food and drink at a very reasonable prices, helping make  for a very enjoyable 3 days.

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