Fall colors bring in the blues
- Published: August 28, 2008
Around town folks still call it the “blues fest,” even though the popular annual event is now officially known as the Blues, Jazz and Cultural Fest. And, although there has been concern that without facilities traditionally provided by Antioch College the show might not go on, co-founder Faith Patterson assures us that in the festival’s 11th year, the African American Cross-Cultural Works has a hand-shake agreement with Antioch University to be allowed to use the amphitheater to put on not only for this year, but for the next as well.
This year’s fest line up includes a mix of new, returning and local acts. Also, as indicated by its name change, it will venture into areas outside of what is traditionally thought of as blues, but are related in either a roots or derivative sense. For example, Bqoku Moses, who is bringing his Afro-Beat Band, hails from Nigeria and integrates African drums such as the Nigerian bata and talking drums, djembe, Senegalese bottom drums into his music. On the pure jazz end of the scale is jazz saxophonist, flutist, and composer Greg Abate.
“We start out with a wish list,” Patterson said of the lineup. “Once we see what we have, we go for balance. We always give preference to local acts.”
Returning act Guy Davis is a bluesman who has dedicated himself to reviving the traditions of acoustic blues. Davis has played at every Blues Fest and has often been called upon to close the show by bringing down the house. Other regulars are jazz cellist Karen Patterson and her bluesman brother, Nerak Roth Patterson, and local bands W.G. Blues Unit and the Carl Schumacher Band.
The festival kicks off at 7 p.m., on Wednesday, Sept. 3, with a Gospel Fest, at the Central Chapel A.M.E. Church, featuring the Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers. An art show from the Geno Foundation 4 the Arts Lagos, Nigeria, which is Eugene-Chime Age’s “Travel Through Time,” at the Antioch Theater on Thursday, Sept. 4, opening at 6:30 p.m.
The rest of the schedule will take place at the Antioch Amphitheater as follows: Friday, Sept. 5, starting at 7 p.m., Larry Humphrey Band, WG Blues Unit, Karen Patterson & Associated Posse, and Bqoku Moses & The Afro-Beat Band; Saturday, Sept. 6 starting at 5:30 p.m., Alberta Adams & RJ’s Rhythm Rockers with guest C.C. Collins, Daddy Mack Blues Band, Nerak Roth Patterson Band, and the Hamilton Loomis Band; and Sunday, Sept. 7, at 2 p.m., Guy Davis, Greg Abate, Carl Schumacher Band, and All Star Jam.
Karen Patterson will hold her annual Innovation Stage Educational Workshop and Performance Clinics on Saturday from noon until 6 p.m.
John Fleming, who has served in the past as a blues fest organizer and is currently responsible for taking care of the grounds, said it was good of the university to let organizers use the amphitheater and the theater building this year. Barring future availability of the college buildings, Fleming said he thought the festival would still go on, and might possibly be moved to the high school football field, where admission could be charged for all aspects of the festival.
“People need to be aware of the cost of culture,” Fleming said in a recent interview. “They also need to be aware of the economic impact of culture.”
Blues Fest came about when Faith Patterson attended a blues festival where her son, Nerak Roth, was playing. When she returned home, she talked to Bill Chappelle and others at AACW and the next year they were putting on their own festival.
Faith Patterson’s role in organizing the festival led to her recent recognition from the Ohio Arts Council, which this summer honored her with an Ohio Heritage Fellowship. The awards, which are co-sponsored by the OAC and the Ohio Folk Arts Network, recognize Ohio folk artists for artistic achievement in their work and teaching and service to their communities to ensure the maintenance of their traditions. The community leadership fellowship, which was awarded to Patterson for her work with the AACW and the blues fest, is given to “an individual whose lifelong achievements have had a lasting positive impact on the excellence, vitality and public appreciation of the folk and traditional arts,” according to the OAC Web site.
But Patterson wants others to know that she couldn’t have made her contribution without the contributions of many others.
“Blues Fest couldn’t happen without the help of too many volunteers to name in one article,” Patterson said. “If I tried to name them all, it would take up the whole paper.”
The complete schedule can be found at www.aacw.org. The suggested donation for amphitheater events is $12. The festival will be held rain or shine.