Blues from the Top: Bigger and better than ever |

Blues from the Top: Bigger and better than ever

Reid Armstrong
Sky-Hi News
Grand County, CO Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

The 8th Annual Blues from the Top kicks off next Thursday afternoon in Hideaway Park. The Thursday show adds a day to the overall event, and Friday’s lineup will be expanded, said Grand County Blues Society founder John Catt.

“This festival is something that’s always been designed for the locals. It gives them something to do and it’s one of the biggest local-attended events of the summer,” Catt said. “Now its even bigger and better.”

The term ‘blues’ today covers a wide range of music, Catt said, from the soulful New Orleans sound to the modern rock of Jimi Hendrix. Most of the guitar players in this year’s lineup “will knock the walls down,” Catt said. “It’s definitely not laid back.”

At least 2,000 people are expected to attend this year’s Blues from the Top, and advance ticket sales are up 140 percent from last year.

People travel from as far as Florida, California and Texas to see this grouping of their favorite artists.

“If it’s just one artist you like, it might not be worth traveling so far, but if you can see two three four of them all together, it’s worth the trip,” he said.

Blues from the Top attracts an ever-increasing line-up of talented artists.

“We had to turn away as many as we signed on this year,” Catt said.

Artists enjoy this festival in particular because it provides a four-day vacation for their entire family. It helps up-and-coming bands achieve more recognition and puts artists in touch with each other, even giving some of them a chance to share the stage.

“I like to help bands like Samantha Fish get in so they get more recognition,” Catt said. “It’s good to be on the discovery end.”

The festival will include vendors serving five different kinds of cuisine, from tacos from the guys at the Conoco in Fraser to barbecue and brats from Smokin’ Moe’s. The Sushi Bar will serve up lunch and dinner in the VIP tent.

“What we do for the VIPs is unbelievable compared to anyone else. We’ve even had fillet. It’s always the best Green Room hospitality in United States,” Catt said.

About the Artists

Thursday kicks off at 5 p.m. with Samantha Fish. Fish made a bold entrance into the Grand County music scene last year when she jumped on stage with artists at last year’s festival blow out at Smokin’ Moe’s. Fish wasn’t old enough to be in the bar at the time, but she held her own amongst the blues power and this year will dominate the stage with her own band.

The festival continues Friday afternoon with an outdoor barbecue at Cooper Creek Square featuring blues legend Curtis Salgado and his sidekick Alan Hager, known as one of the best blues guitarists in the state. The show is free.

Salgado was the inspiration for Dan Akyroid’s character in the Blues Brother’s skits. At the time, not many people were listening to the blues.

“Who would have though that a well planned skit on a show known for comedy would have such a part in introducing a generation to the likes of John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles and James Brown,” Catt said.

Salgado recently won the Soul Blues Artist of the Year in Memphis and he’s going to be the festival’s special guest this year, jumping on stage with a number of different performers and jamming some on his own.

After that, Andy Irvine Blues Collective will play at Smokin’ Moe’s from 5:30 -7 p.m. The Blues Society remodeled Stage 1 this year, expanding it to provide more space and better acoustics and the stage will host night shows Friday and Saturday nights.

Friday night will conclude on Stage 1 with Mike Zito and Trampled Under Foot. Mike Zito will be recording his live shows Friday night and Saturday for his new album. Entrance to the night shows is $20 and is not included in the day passes.

Saturday begins bright and early in Hideaway Park with young performer Michaela Rae on stage at 10:20 a.m. “Michaela Rae is the future of blues,” Catt said.

Other rising stars will be performing on the youth stage between sets throughout the festival. The young performers range in age from 7 to 18 years old and include Jaden Carlson, who recently played at Indian Peaks Charter School in Granby.

Smokin’ Joe Kubek will be onstage at 12:25 p.m. One of the most bluesy performers in the lineup, Kubek has played with B.B. King and brings a touch of Louisiana jazz to his performance.

Teresa James and the Rhythm Tramps play at 1:30 p.m. A sidekick of Delbert McClinton, she plays piano and has a voice that punctuates the lyrics.

Ana Popovic take the stage at 3 p.m. A performing artist who has played stages around the world, she was nominated in 2006 as Blue Artist of the Year by readers of BluesWax Magazine.

At 4:30, Mike Zito, who recently teamed up with Cyril Nevill to write the song that was name “Song of the Year” will return to the stage for the second year. Considered one of the most ‘explosive’ blues artists on the scene, he is becoming ever more well known among blues fans.

Walter Trout and the Radicals will finish off Saturday’s festival at 6 p.m. with a style of blues/rock that has put Trout on the stage with the likes of John Lee Hooker. His song “She Takes More Than She Gives” recently made AOL Radio’s Top 10 list. Catt calls Trout “the greatest guitarist of all.”

As the stage at Hideaway Park dims, the party continues. A teen jam is planned at the Mountain Grind at Cooper Creek Square on Saturday Night and Samantha Fish will head to Ullrs Bar for a free show while a whole slew of other headliners will head to Smokin’ Moes to keep the music going.

“I am most excited about seeing all these artists who know each other come together and make plans and play with each other,” Catt said.

Sunday morning begins, as is tradition, with gospel music from Delores Scott and Jack Hadley at 10:30 a.m.

Colorado Native John Ohnmacht follows at 11:45 with the Johnny O’Band. After touring from more than 6 years with Band du Jour out of Boulder, Ohnmacht is now settled as the frontman for his own band.

JP Soars takes the stage at Hideaway Park for the first time at 1 p.m. He won the Albert King Award for the most promising guitarist at the International Blues Challenge this year.

Nick Moss and the Flip Tops bring the sound of authentic Chicago blues to the stage at 2:15 p.m.

Dilbert McClinton’s band, Dick 50, will start grooving at 3:45. Needing almost no introduction, the band has been touring on its own for almost as long as it’s played with one of blues’ biggest names.

It’s all in the family with Trampled Under Foot, which headlines the Sunday lineup at 5:30 p.m. Two brothers and a sister make up this band, carrying on a family music tradition that dates back to grandma.

More information about the festival is available at

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