28th annual Blues Festival wraps up

The sounds of blues, jazz and folk music filled the Lafayette Hotel on Friday and Saturday during the 28th annual River City Blues Festival in Marietta.

There were five national acts — many multiple award winners — featured during the festival as well as six additional acts during the River City Blues Competition held Saturday afternoon.

“It was a very successful small town festival,” said Peggy Bolen of the Blues Jazz and Folk Music Society, the event’s organizers.

The featured perfomers were Annika Chambers, Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble, The Delgado Brothers, Selwyn Birchwood and Billy Branch & the Sons of the Blues.

Attendence was around 300 people Friday which included a free and open show by High Schools that Rock; there were around 350 Saturday afternoon during the competition; and 375 Saturday night.

“That is a packed house for that ballroom,” Bolen said.

Although the festival highlighted the blues, many of the performers played styles ranging from Texas Blues music to Chicago Blues to styles popular in the South as well as Zydeco music popular in Louisiana.

“It was a really good mix of styles,” Bolen said.

Micah Kesselring, of Athens, Ohio, won the competition as a solo act. He played guitar, a Kickbox and a Box Guitar. He will go on to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn., early next year.

Kesselring has performed and placed in the competition before, Bolen said.

“He should do just as good, if not better,” she said.

He won $1,000 for this competition and will receive an additional $500 when he registers for the International Blues Challenge.

The second place winner was Damian Knapp of Warren, Ohio. He was also a solo act who played guitar.

The people who came out to the festival got to hear a lot of good music and reconnect with friends, Bolen said.

“They had a wonderful weekend in Marietta with great music,” she said.

The festival had people in from Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Ohio, including people from Columbus and Cinncinati as well as a lot of local people.

The event was so popular people are already making plans to return for the 29th festival March 20-21, 2020.

“The hotel is already fully booked for next year,” Bolen said.

The downtown area also benefits from the festival.

“People got to experience Front Street in Marietta,” Bolen said. “Between the shows, people would walk through downtown and visit many of the shops.

“It was good for the community.”