Blues festival Friday, Saturday at the Lafayette

Music lovers have no reason to feel “blue” this weekend, because the 22nd annual River City Blues Festival event is being held at the Lafayette Hotel Friday and Saturday.

The event has become more popular every year, according to John Bolen, president of the Mid-Ohio Valley Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society.

Bolen has been the president of the Mid-Ohio Valley Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society since 1987 and has been a part of the festival since it started.

“It started out slow and at first I wasn’t sure about the idea of doing it,” he said. “But every year it evolved and grew and now we have people that travel to come to it every single year.”

The event averages at least 500 people and is a great economical boost for the city of Marietta, according to Bolen.

“It helps restaurants, shops downtown, the Lafayette Hotel and the town in general,” he said. “Plus it’s a great time for everyone involved. We enjoy partying and listening to some great blues.”

The festival offers plenty of bands to keep the party going for those who enjoy all types of blues.

“We try to have all types of blues at our festival so there is something for everyone,” said Bolen. “We don’t however have any rock and roll. If you are interested in something other than blues, then go to a rock concert.”

This year the festival will feature seven total acts with two Friday evening, three Saturday afternoon and two Saturday evening.

“We are fortunate enough to have Eddie Saw and the Wolf Gang and Zac Harmon to headline for us Saturday night,” said Bolen.

He noted that they try to keep the festival fresh by having different bands every year, but there are special exceptions to the rule.

“Zack Harmon played two years ago, but he is just such a great entertainer and we know he will give the crowd a great show,” said Bolen. “Our whole lineup is fantastic this year. Our first and second place winners from last month’s competition will be in the festival as well.”

Last month the Mid-Ohio Valley Blues Jazz and Folk Music Society hosted its River City Ohio Blues Competition, involving acts who haven’t been signed or are just starting professional careers.

Chris Sutton was the winner and the Michael Gough Group finished second in the competition and earned an invitation to the festival.

The Micheal Gough Group will kick off the festival on Friday night and Chris Sutton will be the first to perform Saturday afternoon.

“They are both very talented acts and will make great additions to our festival,” said Bolen.

Bill Steber, the co-founder of Jake Leg Stompers, said this is the first time the band will be playing in Ohio.

“We stick mostly to the southeast as far as shows go,” he said.

The Jake Leg Stompers are based in Murfreesboro, Tenn. and formed in 2004.

Steber said they call it a jug band collective because the band has had a number of different members.

“Over the years we have had a rotating cast of members play with us,” he said. “We have had as many as six or seven members in the past but we will only have five for this trip.”

The guitar, fiddle, ukulele, mandolin, washboard, spoons and tenor banjo are just a few of the instruments that the band incorporates in their music, according to Steber.

“We’ve been called the Pink Floyd of jug bands because of all the equipment we bring along with us,” said Steber.

The Jake Leg Stompers just recently released their fourth independent album entitled “Up to No Good.”