Ann Arbor Blues Festival Coming to Town





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By Mary Hall, mhall@thesuntimesnews.com

Once again, the Ann Arbor Blues Festival is getting ready to rock.  This year there will be several well-known players, including but not limited to Shemekia Copeland, of whom a popular circular was quoted as saying: “Copeland is a powerhouse, a superstar…she can do no wrong.”

-THE ROLLING STONE



With her new Alligator Records Album, America’s Child, due to be released August 3, 2018 Copeland confidently announces an electrifying new chapter in her constantly evolving story. It was produced by Americana Instrumentalist of the Year Winner Will Kimbrough, who also plays guitar on the album, and recorded in Nashville.  America’s Child is a compelling work with music swelling beyond blues and into spirited Americana, with elements of rock, soul and country.

Be sure to enjoy Shemekia in Ann Arbor, Friday, August 17th at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival, along with Benny Turner, Carolyn Wonderland and The Bob Margolin Trio, and that’s just Friday night.

Saturday Night brings a slew of other talent, featuring Ana Papovic and Janiva Magness.  Other talented performers include Scott Sharrard, Sue Foley, Larry McCray, Pete Anderson, Nora Jean Bruso, John Sinclair and The Blues Scholars with special guest Don Was, and Jake Kershaw.

2018 marks the 49th annual Anniversary of the Ann Arbor Blues Festival.  It takes place August 17 and 18 at the Washtenaw Farm Council Fairgrounds, locatted at 5055 Ann Arbor Saline Rd, in Arbor.  On Friday, the gates open at 5pm and the show starts at 6pm.  On Saturday, the gates open at 11am and the show starts at noon.

The original Ann Arbor Blues Festival is widely recognized as the first “electric” blues festival in North America, which, in its early years, featured perhaps the greatest line-up of heritage blues musicians ever assembled.  This included BB. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Freddy King, Son House and more.

Executive Producer James Partridge revived the Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 2017 under its original name, with an eye toward 2019 – the 50th Anniversary of the Festival.   Ann Arbor, he feels, is the ideal location. “Ann Arbor has always been fertile ground for blues music,” said Partridge. “and there is such a loyal fan base across Michigan and Northern Ohio for the Ann Arbor Blues Fest. We are having a wonderful time reviving this beloved event and are so grateful for the warm response from the community and our sponsors.  This has always been a signature event for Ann Arbor, we are very proud to welcome it back.”

The artists performing in 2018 have received many honors throughout their careers, including more than 20 Grammy nominations, and have won dozens of Blues Music Awards.

In addition to attracting the best talent in the Blues world, a core mission of the Ann Arbor Blues Festival is to honor the Chicago-style Blues roots of the original fest, while keeping an eye toward the future of the genre.  To that end, this year’s festival features a diverse mix of Blues musicians, including contemporary Blues artists, bands that performed at the original festivals, plus up and coming Blues musicians that are generating a buzz, like Michigan’s own  17-year old guitar prodigy Jake Kershaw.

For ticket information, go to http://www.a2bluesfestival,com/tickets.  General Admission ticket holders may bring a blanket or small lawn chair and enjoy the festival from the grassy field within the fairgrounds.

There are a limited number of VIP tickets available. These premium packages include a separate VIP entrance and parking area, air-conditioned luxury restrooms, reserved seating area with chairs close to the stage, access to the VIP tent, complimentary happy hour refreshments, including catered hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, soft drinks and bottles water, and one adult beverage per person of legal drinking age (21+), unique festival swag, and more. Meet and greet opportunities with select performers also included.

For more information about the Festival, lodging information, merchandise information, sponsor information, etc. go to https://www.a2bluesfestival.com  .

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Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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