Winter Park blues festival tops weekend entertainment |

Winter Park blues festival tops weekend entertainment

by Cyndi Palmer
Sky-Hi Daily News

Johnny Winter, Jimmy Thackery, Joe Bonamassa, Jimmy Hall, Bob Margolin, Eden Brent … The list of world-known blues talents sounds like something from a lineup at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. But to see this show, you won’t have to drive down I-70 to reach it, unless you’re coming up from the Front Range.

This premiere lineup is part of the Grand County Blues Society’s two-day Sixth Annual Blues from the Top Festival this weekend at Hideaway Park in downtown Winter Park.

“It will be a beautiful place for music,” said John Catt, one of the GCBS’s founding members. “The rolling, grassy hills should be a dream come true for locals and visitors for years to come.”

This summer’s festival is said to be one of the best and most diverse this year.

“We got it stacked,” he said of the line-up. “The theme of the festival is about legends and legends-to-be.”

Johnny Winter, who rounds out the festival Saturday, was one of the main acts at Woodstock who signed what is believed to be one of the biggest blues recording contracts in history in the 1960s. “Johnny Winter is an icon, hardly anyone has had his effect on the genre and the electric guitar,” Catt said. For this and many other reasons, Catt deems this weekend’s festival as the “Summer of Winter.”

Then there’s Tommy Shannon, half of the legendary rhythm section of Double Trouble who has played the bass over 40 years for many greats (including Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan), Jimmy Thackery who founded the Nighthawks, and Jimmy Hall, a spiritual founder of Southern rock in the early 1970s.

“Then you have Joe Bonamassa,” Catt said. “He has been tutored by some of the greatest players who have ever lived ” if not directly, then indirectly. His star has been rising for a while now and Grand County residents know his power is real. His new band is stacked with unrelenting talent. Anyone who sees his set on Sunday will understand why he is the last act we are throwing down.”

The festival kicks off Saturday, June 28, with the GCBS’s Blues from the School band The Runaways 10:10 to 10:30 a.m., then the Dan Treanor Blues Band 10:45 to 11:45 a.m., John-Alex Mason noon to 12:45 p.m., Eden Brent 1 to 2 p.m., “Steady Rollin'” Bob Margolin and the Delta Sonics 2:15 to 3:30 p.m., Thackery and The Drivers 3:45 to 5 p.m., and Winter 5:15 to 7 p.m. Sunday’s line-up highlights Zak Harmon 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Jason Ricci 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., Larry Garner 1 to 2 p.m., Deanna Bogart 2:15 to 3:30 p.m., the Jimmy Hall Experience (with Tommy Shannon, George Rains and Ronnie Fruge) 3:45 to 5 p.m., and Bonamassa 5:15 to 7 p.m.

After the festival winds down Saturday night, the blues continue into the night at venues across Winter Park. Ricci, whom Catt says “the future of the harmonica belongs to,” will be showcasing his talent with band New Blood and Mason at the Winter Park Pub on Saturday night while the Dan Treanor Blues Band is set to play with Bob Margolin and Al Chessis and the Delta Sonics at Buckets Saloon. The Eden Brent Trio with Andy Irvine and Jimmy Yozell will be at Fontenot’s that night, while Margolin, Hall, Harmon, and Thackery play at Smokin’ Moe’s both Saturday and Sunday evening, with what Catt says will be “some surprises.” Bonamassa, Deanna Bogart and Zak Harmon will be in town Saturday night, he continues, “and they won’t be watching TV in their rooms.” There’s also a pre-fest party on Friday, June 27 at Smokin’ Moe’s with several festival artists sitting in. Discounts are available for buying more than one ticket, with tickets available at the venues or at the festival merchant tent on Saturday.

Last year, the festival attracted about 1,800 people each day, and Catt said he hopes this year’s festival will attract even more. The Town of Winter Park donated toward the blues festival and the Winter Park/Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce will also help sponsor the event again. Other sponsors this year include the Sky-Hi Daily News, Beaver Village Condominiums, Blueswax and Blues Revue.

The festival is run by the GCBS board of directors, an all-volunteer board whose goal is to bring top quality blues bands to Grand County. The event is one of the biggest fundraisers for GCBS. The event is also a way for other nonprofits to raise funds. Grand Adventures and The Shining Stars raise money by selling festival refreshments. The GCBS invites all local nonprofits to be part of the event in some way.

Tickets are $28 for advanced tickets, and $32 per day the day of the festival. They are available at Radio Shack in Fraser, Rudi’s Deli, The Paper Clip, Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, and on the Web sites of the GCBS ( and Tickets West (

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