Blues festival Fri., Sat. at the Lafayette

From toe-tapping zydeco to reggae and straight up Chicago blues, the Mid-Ohio Valley will once again come alive with music for the 27th annual River City Blues Festival hosted by the Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society.

Musicians from Louisiana to Virginia and points in between will converge on the Lafayette Hotel Friday and Saturday. The show kicks off with J.J. Thames and the Violet Revolt at 8 p.m. Friday.

Thames has performed all over the world with artists as a backing vocalist, according to her website, and has penned songs for some mainstream pop, R&B, rock and hip-hop artists. Classically and jazz trained, she began performing at 9 years old and became a blues-shouting banshee by the time she was 18 years old. She cut her teeth after moving down to Jackson, Miss., where she performed with the celebrated “Chitlin’ Circuit” superstars. She is a mixture of traditional blues and soul.

“We really try to look for a variety of styles within the blues genre,” said Jay Phillips, a BJFM member who is involved in coordinating the acts. “I’m retired so I have time to look around for the acts and I take recommendations from our other members.”

The goal of BJFM Society founder, the late “Cobbler” John Bolen, was to not have the same musicians over and over.

“He always said, there is enough good music out there, we never need to repeat. But there are a lot of acts that are crowd favorites so we kind of let that go,” Phillips said.

Some of the other acts include Friday headliner C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band. Chenier is the Creole son of the Grammy Award-winning “King of Zydeco,” Louisiana musician, Clifton Chenier.

Mississippi Heat last appeared in the area around 20 years ago, according to Phillips. Led by harmonica master and songwriter Pierre Lacocque, Mississippi Heat is a world-class Chicago Blues Band.

“We are excited to come back. It’s been a long time,” Lacocque said. “I remember I was impressed with the other bands who were there. There were also a lot of people in the audience.”

The Chicago-based band has a local connection in bass player Brian Quinn.

“He’s from Ohio and he will have some family and friends there, so it will be like a family reunion,” Lacocque said.

The headliner for Saturday night will be Bernard Allison, who was born in Chicago, where his father, Luther Allison, was a Chicago blues musician, according to Phillips. Bernard Allison has released more than 12 albums between 1990 and 2018, according to information from

If you go

¯ What: 27th annual River City Blues Festival.

¯ When: Friday, beginning at 7 p.m., and Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m.

¯ Where: Lafayette Hotel, 101 Front St., Marietta.

¯ Cost: Weekend pass to all events is $70 for BJFM members and $85 for non-members. Tickets are $25 for members and $30 for non-members for Friday night, $25 for members and $30 for non-members for Saturday matinee and $25 for members and $30 for non-members for Saturday night.

¯ Tickets and information are available by calling Helen Holt at 304-615-7997 or Peggy Bolen at 740-376-0222.

Schedule of events


¯ 7 p.m.: Doors open

¯ 8 p.m.: JJ Thames and the Violet Revolt (soul-blues)

¯ 9:45 p.m.: C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band (zydeco)


¯ 11 a.m.: Schools that Rock (local students supervised by Mark Doebrich) (free and open to the public)

¯ 12:30 p.m.: Doors open

¯ 1 p.m.: Cary Morin (Native American fingerstyle guitar)

¯ 2:30 p.m.: Gaye Adegbalola (acoustic duo)

¯ 4 p.m.: Lurrie Bell (Chicago blues)

¯ Dinner break

¯ 7 p.m.: Doors open

¯ 8 p.m.: Mississippi Heat (Delta-inspired blues)

¯ 9:45 p.m.: Bernard Allison (blues rock)