BY ALEX HALL
With three successful years under its belt already, the city of Kent is poised to host its fourth Annual Kent Blues Fest July 20-21, this year featuring a multitude of blues acts on 14 stages across two days. The fest will feature Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels—famed for their 1966 cover of Shorty Long and William “Mickey” Stevenson’s “Devil with a Blue Dress On”—in the headliner slot on Saturday night at the historic Kent Stage. Other performers include Blue Lunch, The Juke Hounds, The Brighter Side Band, Memphis Cradle, and local legends The Numbers Band.
Fans of the blues take the genre quite seriously, as though they were preserving what they see as an important cultural phenomenon, which, admittedly, they are. The Kent Blues Fest, then, has looked to some important people for help in making the festival more than just your average beer-soaked street festival. The Cleveland Blues Society, for one, has lent a hand in legitimizing the festival, as has the Northeast Ohio Blues Association (NEOBA). With this level of seriousness going into the planning of the events, the festival should appeal as much to blues aficionados as to the more general music fan.
The festival is sponsored by local businesses too, which should raise the bar on the quality of the fest in general. Sponsors include the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority, Hungry Howie’s Pizza, Huntington Bank, Apollo Heating & Cooling, Cascade Auto Group, and Schlabig CPAs. As budgeting is a concern with any festival, this level of support not only allows the Kent Blues Fest to be the best it can be but it also demonstrates the level of support that the Kent community has for the arts in general.
The festival kicks off Friday the 20th with Blue Lunch from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on the Acorn Alley stage. Log onto www.kentbluesfest.com for more info and a full line-up.