We recently chatted with James Partridge from the Ann Arbor Blues Society about the upcoming revival of the legendary Ann Arbor Blues Festival on August 19. Our discussion will be published later in the August edition of Current, but suffice it to say, the amazing story of Ann Arbor hosting what’s widely considered to be one of the very first official festivals for electric-blues music in North America, has seemingly slipped past the radar of local music fans. In 1969, two ambitious UM students somehow curated a lineup for the ages, with greats like B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and many more.
There hasn’t been an Ann Arbor Blues Festival in quite some time, and even then, over the decades, it has had a couple starts and stops. It seemed in danger of almost never coming back, until this month… Partridge paired with A2’s own premiere blues-rock auteur, Chris Canas, to get the ball rolling on reviving the Blues Fest and bringing an exciting lineup of top tier talent back to where it all began!
“Not only did Ann Arbor put on one of the first electric blues festivals,” Partridge says, “but they got the greatest blues artists of all time to perform; it boggled my mind!” He remembers the moment he started researching the history of the fest and how it filled him with a resolve to reinvigorate enthusiasm and support for bringing back that magic.
“It just became this drive,” he says, “to get this festival going again!”
Partridge and Canas are backed by a small team of volunteer blues enthusiasts helping to get this year’s Blues Fest off the ground, but a crowdfunding campaign’s successful subsidizing would assure that this comeback run is the best it can be.
The bands in this year’s lineup include The Chris Canas Band, Benny Turner (with Deacon Jones and Brandon “Taz” Niederauer), The Nick Moss Band, Eliza Neals and the Narcoits, and many more!
More info here: a2bluesfestival.com
And stay tuned for our August issue.
Meanwhile, here’s Chris Canas: