Blues from the Top profiles: The Future of the Blues
Special to the Sky-Hi News
Each summer, blues musicians from across the country and the globe gather in Winter Park for Grand County’s Annual “Blues from the Top” Festival. This weekend, thousands of fans will watch them perform.
But there’s a smaller group of musicians who also play a big part in the festival: an ensemble festival organizer John Catt calls “The Future of the Blues.”
“We have 25 young musicians performing this year from seven different states,” Catt said. “These kids are from all over Colorado as well as different parts of the country.”
Out of state performers include Natalie Moyer, a 14 year-old singer-songwriter from Kansas City and 11 year-old Sadie Moss, a pianist and singer from Chicago. The Pina Brothers Band will travel from Topeka, Kansas. Drummer Molly and her sister, pianist Grace Johnson hail from Indiana, and drummer Grace Ritter is making her way to Winter Park from Dallas. Milwaukee, Wisconsin native Maddie Beeghly will take the stage this year as well.
“Maddie’s only nine,” Catt said. “And she’s going to blow everyone away.”
Among the local musicians: siblings Mackenzie and Mason Culver of Fort Collins, along with singer and guitarist Grace Kuch, also of Fort Collins. Emma Marie is a ten year-old guitarist and singer-songwriter from Loveland.
“Emma’s voice is from another world,” Catt said. “Jordan Jamison is another Colorado musician who will perform this year. I gave her the nickname ‘Sticks’, because she never goes anywhere without her sticks.”
Fans can watch these future blues stars and many others at Cooper Creek Square Friday afternoon from 2-5 p.m., and later that night, from 8-10 p.m. at the Foundry in Fraser. There’s also a Saturday night performance, from 8-10 p.m. above Ullrs Tavern in Winter Park, and the kids will jam together in between set changes throughout the festival.
“It’s a pretty spectacular group of kids,” said Catt. “They don’t have to play the blues. But they can come to this festival and learn to work with other musicians and organizers. Things are always changing during a performance. We refer to this as ‘Band Camp’ for them.”
Sixteen year-old Hans Kristian from Oslo, Norway is making a special trip to Winter Park on his way to Boston, where he’ll attend Berklee College of Music in the fall. Kristian is part of an ensemble Catt has created, called “Keeping the Blues Alive.” The band will kick off the festival at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 27th.
“Without them, there’s no future for the blues,” Catt said. “We’re creating the stars of tomorrow, the relevant acts of tomorrow. I love these kids and their spirits and what they bring.”
The festival kicks off this weekend. For more information, log on to http://www.grandblues.org.
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