Music lovers unite for blues festival

MARIETTA – Music lovers united at the Lafayette Hotel on Saturday for the second day of the 23rd annual River City Blues Festival in downtown Marietta.

“This weekend has been great,” said longtime event emcee Jeff Fox. “We’ve seen a lot of people come in and have fun while listening to great music.”

On Saturday night roughly 500 people were expected to filter through the doors of the ballroom in the Lafayette Hotel, located at the corner of Front and Greene streets.

“We see more than 500 individual faces in the crowds during the three events of the festival on Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night,” said Fox, who is also with the Mid-Ohio Valley Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society, which hosts the event annually. “But, at any one time there are hundreds of people in that ballroom.”

This year’s event paid tribute to former BJMFS president “Cobbler” John Bolen, who passed away Feb. 25 following a long illness.

“We dedicated this year’s festival to ‘Cobbler’ John because he was such a big part of this festival,” Fox said. “So, this year, it’s a blues festival and celebration of ‘Cobbler’s’ life, which is exactly how he would have wanted it.”

The weekend festival featured seven bands performing during three shows, including the Tee Dee Young Band from Lexington, Ky., which won the River City Blues Competition in February. The competition is also hosted by the BJFMS.

Saturday afternoon kicked off with a special performance by Schools That Rock, a group of about 16 students in sixth grade and older and others from Washington State Community College Music Club, under the direction of retired teacher Mark Doebrich.

Other participants on Saturday were Chris O’Leary Band, The Hoodoo Men, Blind Boy Paxton and Thornetta Davis in the afternoon and Long Tall Deb and The Werewolves of Alabama and Victor Wainwright Band in the evening.