Lineup announced for Grand County Blues from the Top Festival | SkyHiNews.com
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Lineup announced for Grand County Blues from the Top Festival

Stephanie Miller
Sky-Hi Daily News
Art Ferrari courtesy photo
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The Grand County Blues Society is gearing up for its sixth annaul Blues from the Top Festival in Winter Park. This year’s line up includes Jimmy Thackery, Johnny Winter and Joe Bonamassa.

The two-day event will kick off the first series of concerts at Hideaway Park this year, a venue that is currently receiving a major overhaul. John Catt, a founding member of the Blues Society, is looking forward to the venue’s new look, which will include a fully-sodded sitting area that slopes towards the stage.

Last year was the first time the blues festival took place at Hideaway Park in downtown Winter Park.

“We love that venue. It will be a beautiful place for music,” Catt said. “The new design is more music friendly due to all the sod and the contouring of the amphitheater.”

The town of Winter Park is giving $25,000 toward the blues festival ” same as last year ” and the Winter Park/Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce will help sponsor the event again. Last year’s festival brought in roughly 1,800 concert-goers each day, and Catt hopes this year’s will attract an even bigger crowd ” especially locals.

“The most important thing to me personally is the local attendance. We want to keep that more than anything else.”

Catt is a bona fide blues fan. His cell phone rings constantly as he helps coordinate one of Grand County’s biggest festivals of the year. His living room is plastered with posters of musical artists, most of which will be playing in Winter Park this summer.

“We got it stacked,” he said of the line-up. “Johnny Winter, he’s one of the main acts at Woodstock. He signed the biggest blues recording contracts in history when he signed on back in the ’60s,” Catt said.

He hopes the line-up will entice more businesses and community members to get involved.

“What we need is more businesses and the community to support it, so we can justify all the work that goes into (this festival),” he added.

Tim Hubbard, owner of Rudi’s Deli in Winter Park and a GCBS board member, feels the annual blues festival helps bring a lot of business to the Fraser Valley and Winter Park ” two towns that often get knocked for their lack of nightlife and entertainment, he said.

“I think it gets a lot of Denver folks that normally wouldn’t come up here to check out Winter Park. And hopefully we’re also creating some return visitors,” Hubbard said.

The blues festival is run by the GCBS board of directors, an all-volunteer board who’s goal is to bring top quality blues bands to Grand County. The festival is held every year for a couple of reasons, Catt explained.

For one, it’s one of the biggest fundraisers for GCBS, which harbors other programs such as Blues in the Schools and Blue Star Connection. The event is also a way for other nonprofits to raise funds. Grand Adventures and The Shining Stars raise money by selling beverages and food at the festival. Catt added that the GCBS invites all local nonprofits to be part of the event in some way.

The second reason for the festival is to make people in Colorado recognize Winter Park as a music destination, Catt said.

“I’ve had people from the national blues scene come up and remark that this could be the next Telluride, maybe better. For us to be considered in the same breath as Telluride means whatever we’ve done has been recognized.”

The festival had humble beginnings, he said, and its success is a tribute “to a bunch of selfless people who stuck with it.”

He encourages more sponsors to get involved. Those interested should contact a GCBS board member on the GCBS Web site, grandblues.org.


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