On June 3, the Cincy Blues Society hosted its 19th-annual Cincy Blues Challenge, an all-day live “play-off” competition at Germania Park that featured more than 20 area Blues acts. The event determines who will perform at the Cincy Blues Fest, with the top winners going on to rep the Cincy Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis the following year.
The “band” winner at this year’s local challenge was Johnny Fink and the Intrusion, a veteran Cincinnati group that also won in 2015. The band’s frontman was the “solo/duo” winner of 2016’s Cincy Blues Challenge and that same year, Johnny Fink and the Intrusion won the Dayton Blues Society’s own challenge. The Dayton and Cincinnati contests allow artists from around the region to compete. Case in point: the duo Lil Red & The Rooster, from near Columbus, Ohio, won “solo/duo” honors at this year’s Cincy Blues Challenge.
The challenge winners will appear alongside several other Blues acts from Greater Cincinnati and beyond at August’s Cincy Blues Fest. The event returns Aug.11 to Sawyer Point, where it has been held since 1994. For the 2018 edition, the festival is returning to the single-day format of that first year, after 23 years as a two-day festival. Fink and Co. play the Blues Fest main stage alongside other local groups like Ralph and the Rhythm Hounds, Leroy Ellington’s Sacred Hearts, the Noah Wotherspoon Band and Chuck Brisbin & the Tuna Project. Internationally renowned Blues/Rock/Roots artist Delbert McClinton headlines the main stage. The Blues Fest has also announced the lineup for the popular Arches Boogie Piano Stage, which again features Boogie Woogie pianists from across the planet, including Cincy’s own Ricky Nye and Ben Levin. See the schedule announced so far below.
Budweiser Main Stage
Arches Boogie Piano Stage
Tickets for the 2018 Cincy Blues Fest are available now at cincybluesfest.org/tickets. Every Tuesday leading up to the concert, the fest is offering a special — $20 gets you a ticket and a commemorative Blues Fest poster, plus a chance to win a CBF-branded Rookwood Pottery mug.
UPDATE: The Blues Fest is still looking for volunteers. Click here if you can help out and want to get into the event gratis.