Just thinking about the Jackson Blues Festival celebrating 12 years is truly something. We’re proud to have made it to this point and thankful to all those who have supported our efforts.
We have certainly had our share of ups and downs – but more ups than downs. It is difficult to string together 3 days of good weather in Michigan and the rain has definitely attended almost every year. We joke that we should call this the 11th Annual Rain Festival with some Blues during intermission. We had a scare a couple of years ago when, at the last minute, the title sponsor reneged on their commitment, but then Sharon Renier stepped up and saved the festival. We have had parking problems, electrical problems and a few other glitches along the way. But the good things outweigh the bad 10 fold. We wouldn’t trade it for anything.
The first year (2001) the festival was held at Kuhl’s Bell Tower parking lot and attracted over 1700 attendees. We needed more space and so we moved the 2003 festival to the Jackson County Fairgrounds where we had about 4000 blues fans come out, even though it was still taking place in a parking lot on asphalt. Although the Fairgrounds raised our rent substantially, we decided to hold 2004′s festival at the fairgrounds in an effort to establish some continuity. 2004′s event brought in 13,000 plus and was a big success. The festival has never made much money or, thank goodness, gone into the hole too deeply but in 2005, the Jackson County Fairgrounds chose to more than double the rent again. Our previous year’s event had gone smoothly with no negative incidents and we left the grounds spotless and paid all our bills promptly. Sadly, We realized that we had to move the festival again and it took some searching but we finally found a great location at the Jackson County Airport; on a grassy lawn! It worked out beautifully. 2005′s attendance surpassed 20,000 and in 2006 the numbers again jumped significantly. Now we’re in our 11th year! The airport has been very accommodating and is making us feel welcome like no other venue has before now.
As I look back at the list of performers we have had over the past 11 years, I must say that we have brought some great Blues musicians to Jackson. Here is the list to date:
Johnny Reed and the Houserockers, E.C. Scott, The Automatic Blues Band, Mark Arshak, Mojo Phoenix, Susie Pangborn Blues Band, Vince Reynolds and the Blues All-Stars, Al Hill and the Lover Butlers, Doug Demming and the Jewel Tones, Those Delta Rhythm Kings, Mark Hummel, Rattlebox, Blue Infusion, Bob Halverson, The Witch Doctors, Alberta Adams, Old Town Blues Band, The Blues Creators, Too Blue Feat, The Alligators, Howlin’ Mercy, The Crossroads Blues Band, Nick Moss and the Flip Tops, Parkside Beale Street Blues Band, WhoDoo, Bigfoot Bob and the Toe Tappers, The Chris Canas Band, The Martindales, Liz Mandville Greeson, Wixom Slim & the Wyze Gyze, Mississippi Heat, The Blues Rollers, Detroit Women, The Blues Owls, Shake ‘n’ Chill Band, The Motor City Sheiks, Mojo and the Boogie Man, Who Dat? Blues Band, The Out of Favor Boys, John Lee Hooker, jr., Stan Budzynski & 3rd Degree, Harry Lucas & the Lowdown, Jimi Vincent & Stallion, Phil Berkowitz, Front Street Blues Band, Sweet Claudette, The Root Doctor, Good Cookies, Frostbite Blues Band, Rusty Wright Blues Band, Billy Branch, Mess Around, Mighty Littlejohn Band, Chris Beard, Blue Lunch, Argentucky Blues, Mike Espy & Yackety Yack, Elmore James, jr., Duke Tumatoe, Carl Caballero Band, Jeff Hoagland Blues Band, C.J. Vaughn & Highway 58, Seventh Son, Motor City Injectors, Larry McCray, Matt Beesey Band, Greg Nagy, Lady Sunshine and the X Band, Tomas Esparza & The Boa Constrictors, Broken Arrow Blues Band, The Blue Moon Band, Fat Lapp Blues Band, Ben Moore & The Blues Express, Jeff Maylin, Sonny Mooreman, Derek Boile, Eddie Shaw & the Wolfgang, The Bluescasters, James Armstrong, Lee Lewis Blues Band, John Primer, Joe Johnson and the Blue Backs, Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings,