WHAT IS THE ANN ARBOR BLUES FESTIVAL?
North America’s first electric blues festival was held in Ann Arbor, Michiganin August 1969. That’s when a small group of University of Michigan students,influenced by the ‘60s counterculture, defied racial prejudice and introduced20,000 mostly white teenagers to a cadre of black blues musicians – many ofwhose songs were only known to mainstream Americans because they had beenre-released by white rock and roll bands like Cream, Derek & The Dominos,Creedence Clearwater Revival, Eric Burdon and the Animals, and the RollingStones.
Guided by music industry stalwart Bob Koester of Delmark Records, students JohnFishel and Cary Gordon assembled two dozen artists, now widely considered to beamong the greatest blues musicians who ever lived, for a 3-day celebration ofChicago-style blues. B.B. King. Muddy Waters. Howlin’ Wolf. Freddie King. MagicSam. John Lee Hooker. Luther Allison. Big Mama Thornton. Charlie Musselwhite.Junior Wells. Mississippi Fred McDowell. Son House. T-Bone Walker. The listgoes on and on.
The lineup in 1970 was equally star-studded, with artists like Buddy Guy, OtisRush, Rick Derringer, and Johnny Winter cementing Ann Arbor’s reputation as thepremier blues festival in the country. By 1972, famed concert promoter PeterAndrews and political activist John Sinclair teamed up to lead the festival,which they rechristened as the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival.
They added Count Basie, Miles Davis, and James Brown to the growing roster ofmusic industry legends attracted to what was becoming the midwestern mecca ofjazz and blues. Atlantic Records released a 2-record live album of the 1972Blues and Jazz Festival, featuring performances by Koko Taylor, Bobby “Blue”Bland, Hound Dog Taylor, Johnny Shines, Sun Ra, Dr. John, Sippie Wallace,Bonnie Raitt, Junior Walker, and Otis Rush, among others.
SO WHY NOW?
The Ann Arbor Blues Festival is significant for far more than the fact that itwas the first blues festival of its kind. Its significance is racial, it iscultural, and it is political. Through the power of music, The Ann Arbor BluesFestival united musician and audience, student and teacher, have- and have-not,black and white. It influenced and it inspired. It can safely be said, withoutexaggeration, that The Ann Arbor Blues Festival changed the world.
OUR PLEDGE TO YOU
A half-century later, society is again at a crossroads. We face many of thesame social, cultural, and political challenges that existed in 1969: we havebecome more polarized, more divided. The 50th anniversary of the festival thatchanged everything is the perfect occasion to reaffirm the spirit of unity andequity that the Ann Arbor Blues Festival ushered in.
A Word about the Charities We Support
Did you know that $2 from every ticket purchased goes to support charitable organizations?
Because we’ve all received so much out of music, the Ann Arbor Blues Festival proudly supports the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, which provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems. We’ll be donating $1 from every ticket sold to this worthy non-profit organization.
We’re also committed to finding a cure for one of the most prevalent forms of muscular dystrophy there is – Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (or FSHD). As the world’s largest research-focused patient advocacy organization for FSHD, the FSH Society is accelerating the development of treatments and a cure for the nearly one million people worldwide who are affected by this muscle-wasting disease. We’ll be donating $1 from every ticket sold to the FSH Society.
If you’d like to add your own contribution to these organizations, please make your selection above.
2019 Ann Arbor Blues FestivalLine-Up (***subject to change and addition)
Friday, August 16th
- The Allman Betts Band
- Bernard Allison
- Thornetta Davis
With a special performance by the Ann Arbor Music Center All-Star youth band
Saturday, August 17th
- Benny Turner
- John Primer & The Real Deal Blues Band
- Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers
- Lindsay Beaver
- The Sam Lay Band
- Eliza Neals and the Narcotics
- Kara Grainger
- Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones
Sunday, August 18th
- Laith Al-Saadi
- Danielle Nicole
- Vanessa Collier
- Harper & Midwest Kind
- The Altered Five Blues Band
- Alex Johnson
The Allman Betts Band / Benny Turner / Laith Al-Saadi / Danielle Nicole / Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers
Bernard Allison / Thornetta Davis / John Primer & the Real Deal Blues Band / Lindsay Beaver / Eliza Neals and the Narcotics / Kara Grainger / Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones / Vanessa Collier / The Altered Five Blues Band / Harper and Midwest Kind / Alex Johnson