Marquette will serve as a mecca for the blues over the Labor Day weekend.
That's when the 2nd annual Marquette Area Blues Fest will feature acoustic guitar master Rory Block, Chicago party band Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials and several other top acts.
The event, held at Marquette Mountain last year, is moving to the scenic Ellwood Mattson Lower Harbor Park near downtown, providing a Lake Superior backdrop for the artists and audience.
Explosive young guitarist Sean Costello, Detroit blues shouter Thornetta Davis and Lucky Peterson--a one-time child-prodigy-- round out the national acts. Regional and local acts will also play.
Performer Block is known for her slide guitar work and has been immersed in the blues since she ran away from her New York home at age 15. She "paid her dues" in the Sixties and beyond and learned her craft from greats Skip James and Mississippi John Hurt.
Block often played up to 250 dates a year and in the process earned several W. C. Handy awards for her recordings. Her most recent work, released earlier this year, is entitled "From the Dust." She'll perform at 6 p. m. Sunday, Sept. 4.
Also known for his slide guitar prowess, Lil' Ed--at five foot one-- throws a big party onstage. Ed leaps and slides around the stage as his house rockin' band keeps the groove. Ed, too, learned from veteran bluesmen, including his uncle J. B. Hutto. "I learned everything I know from J. B.," Ed claims. Lil' Ed will perform at 8 p. m. Saturday, Sept. 3.
Multi-instrumentalist Lucky Peterson, meanwhile, is the son of blues singer James Peterson. By age five he had a hit single and in later years appeared on numerous national television programs. Peterson has now demonstrated his abilities on guitar, keyboards, bass, drums and trumpet to audiences all over the world for more than 30 years. Peterson will take the stage at 8 p. m. Sunday, Sept. 4.
Costello--just in his mid-twenties-- has already released four albums, including a self-titled effort from earlier this year. The Philadelphia native will play at 4 p. m. Sunday, Sept. 4.
Daily tickets are $15 at the gate only, while weekend passes are $20 in advance, available at the Record Rack.
MORE MARQUETTE BLUES
Marquette's Flat Broke Blues Band will be among the local performers at Blues Fest. Music fans may remember their performance earlier this year at the annual YMCA fundraiser at Danforth Place. The band, featuring new vocalist Lorrie Hayes, also includes guitarist front-man Walt Lindala. Lindala is involved in the Marquette Area Blues Society and works as an area radio personality. The band has two CD's to their credit, including "Worth the Wait," from earlier this year. The disc features a couple of tasty covers and originals with a northwoods twist.
GREEN BAY BLUES
A crowd-pleasing pairing of old-and-new blues performers will be featured this month at the Oneida Casino in Green Bay. The sold-out Aug. 25 show will match Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy with twenty-something guitar slinger Jonny Lang. Guy-- a star since the Fifties-- occasionally leaves his Illinois digs to tour. Lang, meanwhile, rocketed to fame in 1997 as a 16-year-old with his album "Lie to Me."
Chicago Blues Reunion is the name taken by a great group of Chicago blues players for their new album called "Buried Alive in the Blues." The assembled musicians include Barry Goldberg, Nick Gravenites, Harvey Mandel, Tracy Nelson, Sam Lay and Corky Siegel. These music treasures shine on the title song which Gravenites wrote for Janis Joplin. Unfortunately, Joplin died the night before she was to record the song. The two-disc set has a live CD and DVD with exclusive interviews with B. B. King, Buddy Guy and others.
The blues in the U. P., Wisconsin and Illinois...that's your geography lesson for this week. Don't forget: The blues will cure what ails ya.