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Singin’ the blues

Marquette Area Blues Fest bringing talent to town

August 25, 2012
By RENEE PRUSI - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - The lineup for Marquette Area Blues Fest 2012 is a mix of new and veteran artists with one certain thing in common: great talent.

Blues Fest takes place Sept. 1-2 in Mattson Lower Harbor Park.

"We have a great mix of bands and styles this year," said Walt Lindala, one of the event's founders. "John Primer is a Chicago Blues legend. During his career, he has played with all of the true greats of the blues, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Magic Slim and many more. He is a direct line to the Chicago greats."

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Trampled Under Foot

Primer was nominated for a Grammy in 2009 for Best Traditional Blues Album for his work "Chicago Blues: A Living History."

Blues new guard also will be represented.

"Trampled Under Foot represents the future of the blues," Lindala said. "This brother-sister trio from Kansas City won the 2008 International Blues Challenge and following a performance at this year's Blues Music Awards in Memphis, Tenn., they brought an entire theater of blues artists and fans to their feet for a standing ovation. That's not an easy feat!

Fact Box

The 2012 festival will take place from Sept. 1-2 at Mattson Lower Harbor Park.

The lineup:

The 2012 Marquette Area Blues Fest will take place Sept. 1-2 at Mattson Lower Harbor Park:


1 p.m. Mid-Nite Storm

2:30 p.m. Hipps N Ricco Band

4 p.m. Andrew "Jr. Boy" Jones

6 p.m. John Primer

8 p.m. Trampled Under Foot


1 p.m. Gustafson & Ziegner

2:30 p.m. Flat Broke Blues Band

4 p.m. The Jimmys

6 p.m. Levee Town

8 p.m. Carolyn Wonderland

Gates open at noon each day.

A Festival After Party and Blues Jam, featuring The Jimmys, is planned Sept. 2 at the Marquette Elks Lodge after the music ends in the park. Tickets are $5 and are available at the festival. A?free harmonica workshop with National Harmonica Champion "Hurriance Dave"?is planned from noon to 1 p.m. at the Frazier Boathouse.

Pre-festival tickets are $45 for an adult weekend pass and are available through NMU EZ Tickets and at various locations throughout the Upper Peninsula. For young adults (ages 15-23 with valid ID), tickets are $10, limit one per person. Children 14 and under are admitted free with a paid adult admission.

At the gate, adult tickets are $50 for the weekend or $30 per day.

For festival information email

or call 1-800-544-4321.

"We are bringing blues artists to Marquette that have performed around the world, been on national television and radio and are the best in today's music scene. And it's all for a very low ticket price," Lindala added.

The festival has come a long way since its beginnings.

"The first festival was out at Marquette Mountain and was really a 'seat of the pants' affair," Lindala said. "We had members who put their personal vehicles up to get the money to hold the first fest. We really had no idea how it was going to go, but lo and behold it was a hit, and here we are nine years later.

"Now we are established on the 'big list' of blues festivals around the country and around the world and we have constant contact from artists and bands that want to come to Marquette and play. And many bands that have been here before really want to come back because of the great vibe of the festival, its current location at Mattson Park by the lake and the cool folks they meet here."

In addition to Primer and Trampled Under Foot, other acts performing during this year's festival are: Mid-Nite Storm, Hipps N Ricco Band, Andrew "Jr. Boy" Jones, Gustafson & Ziegner, Flat Broke Blues Band, The Jimmys, Levee Town and Carolyn Wonderland.

The two days of music in the park are capped by a very special gathering: The Festival After Party and Blues Jam which takes place Sunday night, Sept. 2, at the Marquette Elks Lodge.

"The 'post party' as we call it is ALWAYS a blast! There is always a line of artists from the festival who want to sit in and jam and every year, we run out of time and wish we could go later," Lindala said. "Some of the best music of the weekend is made at the post party. The party vibe also runs high because we can finally relax after two days of running a festival."

While blues enthusiasts are, of course, fired up for the festival, the event has grown to draw attendees from all kinds of musical genre backgrounds.

"I really have to say that the attitude and spirit of the festival is so comfortable and cool that people just come to feed off of that energy," Lindala said. "So many people that come tell us that they may not be the biggest blues fans or even know who these players are, but they come for the party. For the jams, the food, the beverages, the people watching, etc.

"We've had road veteran artists and longtime blues writers tell us that they would place the Marquette Area Blues Fest easily in the top 10, if not top five, of blues fest experiences in the world."

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is



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