Festival celebrates 5th anniversary with "Roots of the Blues" theme
The fifth annual Niagara Falls Blues Festival, hosted by the Niagara Festival & Entertainment Group, returns to the Global Spectrum-managed Old Falls Street, USA, Sept. 6 through 9. This year's festival carries a "Roots of the Blues" theme, while featuring more than 20 acts, nine of which are nationally recognized including James Cotton, Donnie Walsh, Richard Ray Farrell, The Nighthawks, John Primer, Mac Arnold & Plate Full O' Blues, Tas Cru, The Forty Fours and Shrimp Daddy.
The weekend celebrates the music of harmonica players and is free and open to the public.
"We are proud to continue to collaborate with the Niagara Festival & Entertainment Group to hold the Blues Festival on Old Falls Street, USA, again this year," said Global Spectrum's Ryan Coate, general manager of Old Falls Street, USA, and the Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls. "This three-day event has become a staple in our downtown area, while attracting thousands of music enthusiasts to Old Falls Street."
"The blues is the music that never grows old, it keeps you young at heart," said Toby Rotella, founder and president of the Niagara Festival & Entertainment Group. "As my friend Muddy Waters used to say, 'The Blues had a baby and they named it rock 'n' roll.' "
The festival begins on Thursday, Sept. 6, with the annual Pine Avenue Classic Car and Motorcycle Cruise to Old Falls Street. Participants are asked to assemble at Sal Maglie Stadium in Hyde Park, for a police-escorted cruise to the festival's kick-off party at Legends Bar & Grill, located on Old Falls Street. The party features music by the Coupe de Villes, from 7 to 9 p.m.
Friday's activities, including live music and food and beer vending, are planned from 4 to 11 p.m. on Old Falls Street, featuring the following lineup:
•Billy's Blues Band (hometown blues)
•Reflector (classic R&B)
•Electras with special guest Tommy Z
•Richard Ray Farrell
•Mac Arnold & Plate Full of Blues - Mac Arnold's music career reads as a "who's who" of blues/R&B legends, including collaborations with James Brown, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, The Temptations and B.B. King
Saturday's "Roots of the Blues" activities are planned from 11:45 a.m. to 11 p.m. and feature:
•Richard Ray Farrell - Mississippi Delta blues
•Double Take Blues Band
•Nickel City Pimp Choir (jive/swing)
•The Amazing Dr. Zarcons Breathing Machine (jug band)
•The Bravuras (old school blues)
•The Forty Fours (West Coast roots blues)
•John "The Real Deal" Primer - Grammy Award and Handy Award nominee, Primer began his career at the age of 8. He has collaborated with Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Lonnie Brooks and Muddy Waters.
•Donnie "Mr. Downtown" Walsh
•James "Mr. Superharp" Cotton - Grammy Award-winning blues harmonica master, who celebrates 68 years as a professional musician and has recorded nearly 30 solo albums, including the famed "Harp Attack!" with Junior Wells, Carey Bell and Billy Branch.
The Blues Festival wraps up on Sunday, Sept. 9, from noon to 6 p.m. with performances by:
•Zark and the Sharks
•Aces & Eights
The weekend also features an autographed electric guitar raffle, signed by all performers, which will be given away on Saturday evening. Proceeds benefit next year's Niagara Falls Blues Festival. Also raffled off will be a specialty blues basket, including a bottle of Crystal Head Vodka, signed by Dan Aykroyd.
The fifth annual Niagara Falls Blues Festival is sponsored by Certo Brothers (Coors); Global Spectrum and Old Falls Street, USA; Modern Corporation; the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission; Assemblyman John Ceretto; Quality Hotel & Suites Downtown; the Niagara Gazette; EconoLodge North; the City of Niagara Falls; Attorney Craig Touma; KeyBank; the Committee to Re-elect Judge Angelo Morinello; Allentown Music; Generations Music; and MistyThunder Limo Service