Winter Park / Live Music: Tickets now on sale for summer blues festival |

Winter Park / Live Music: Tickets now on sale for summer blues festival

by Cyndi Palmer
Sky-Hi Daily News

Jimmy Thackery, Johnny Winter, 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.

This premiere lineup is part of the Grand County Blues Society’s two-day Blues from the Top Festival in June and tickets just went on sale.

The GCBS gears up for its sixth annual Blues from the Top Festival, an event that kicks off the first series of concerts at Hideaway Park in downtown Winter Park.

“We love that venue,” said John Catt, one of GCBS’s founding members. “It will be a beautiful place for music. 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. Catt agrees.

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

Johnny Winter 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. “Johnny is not imitating anyone but himself.”

Then there’s Tommy Shannon, Catt said, “one-half of the legendary rhythm section of Double Trouble who has played the bass over 40 years for so many greats (including Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan).”

And Jimmy Thackery who founded the Nighthawks who were often called to back up Muddy Waters, and “throw in Jimmy Hall, a spiritual founder of Southern rock in the early ’70s.”

“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.”

When the day winds down, the blues continue into the night at venues across Winter Park.

Catt said the “future of the harmonica belongs to Jason Ricci.” Ricci will be showcasing his talent at the Winter Park Pub on Saturday night while SoulMate, of Shillong, India, “the best blues band in India,” is set to play at Buckets Saloon. Eden Brent will be at Fontenot’s that night, while Margolin and Hall play at Smokin’ Moe’s both Saturday and Sunday evening, “with some surprises” Catt said. “Bonamassa, Deanna Bogart and Zak Harmon will be in town Saturday night and they won’t be watching TV in their rooms.”

Last year, the festival attracted about 1,800 people each day, and Catt said he hopes this year’s festival will attract even more, especially the number of locals in attendance.

He hopes the line-up will entice more businesses and community members to get involved as well. The festival helps bring a lot of business to the Fraser Valley and helps Coloradans recognize the area as a music destination. 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.

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.

The festival kicks off Saturday, June 28, with Johnny Winter, Jimmy Thackery, Bob Margolin, the Delta Sonics, Eden Brent, John-Alex Mason, SoulMate, and the GCBS’s Blues from the School band The Runaways. Sunday’s line-up highlights Joe Bonamassa, Jimmy Hall and Tommy Shannon and George Rains; Ronnie Fruge, Deanna Bogart, Larry Garner, Jason Ricci and Zak Harmon. There’s also a pre-fest party on Friday, June 27 at Smokin’ Moe’s with several festival artists sitting in.

Tickets are $20 per day until May 8 (Bonamassa’s and Robert Johnson’s birthdays), $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 (

Interested sponsors may contact a GCBS board member on the GCBS Web site,

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