Catch great local blues at Cincy Blues Fest

The 24th-annual Cincy Blues Fest descends on Sawyer Point Friday and Saturday. Plus, local artists perform in local guitarist/singer/songwriter Maria LeMaster's memory Friday night at Southgate House Revival.

Aug 10, 2016 at 9:59 am
The Magic Lightnin’ Boys play Saturday at Cincy Blues Fest. - Photo: Provided
Photo: Provided
The Magic Lightnin’ Boys play Saturday at Cincy Blues Fest.

The Cincy Blues Fest — which presents its 24th-annual event this Friday and Saturday on three stages along the riverfront at Sawyer Point — always brings in some nationally known touring Blues acts to headline. But it has also been the place to sample Cincinnati’s best artists in any given year. If you look back at the local musicians in past lineups, you’d see snapshots of what the local Blues scene looked like in each year the fest has been presented. This year is no exception.

Music begins at 5:45 p.m. Friday on the Local Stage, where you can catch Tempted Souls Band, The SoulFixers, The Leroy Ellington Band, John Redell & the Company He Keeps and Dudley Taft. Saturday, the Local Stage kicks off at 4:45 p.m. and features The Magic Lightnin’ Boys, Chuck Brisbin & the Tuna Project, The Doug Hart Band, The Beaumonts, Ralph & the Rhythm Hounds and The Blue Birds.

You can find more local acts on some of the other stages. Johnny Fink earned his 5:30 p.m. Main Stage slot on Friday by placing first in the Cincy Blues Challenge’s “Solo/Duo” category, while the Challenge’s “Band” winner, Jay Jesse Johnson Band, plays the Main Stage on Saturday at 6 p.m. Both will represent Cincinnati at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis early next year. 

Elsewhere, a staple of the unique Arches Boogie Piano Stage (which features Boogie Woogie pianists from all over the world), Ricky Nye, performs again this year on Saturday at 5:20 p.m. 

There will also be bands featuring participants from two local educational programs at the festival. On Friday, players from the local Guitars4Vets program Six Strings for Solace — which gives lessons and gear to military veterans to help them cope with issues like PTSD — opens the Women’s Showcase Stage at 5:45 p.m. And students from the Blues in the Schools program — which sends accomplished area Blues players to local schools to educate young people on the music’s history — again perform at the Blues Fest this year, this time at 5 p.m. on the Main Stage Saturday evening. 

Tickets for the Cincy Blues Fest are $20 per day, or $35 for a two-day pass. Tickets may be purchased in advance at For the full lineup and complete info on the festival, visit 

Music for Maria 

Earlier this summer, local guitarist/singer/songwriter Maria LeMaster passed away unexpectedly. She was only 29 and, of course, her sudden loss hit her many friends hard, including many from the local music community. So those musician friends are doing what local musicians so often do when a member of the community passes away or suffers a serious hardship — they’re banding together to support LeMaster’s family and celebrate her life. 

Friday night at the Southgate House Revival (111 East Sixth St., Newport,, numerous local acts will perform in LeMaster’s memory and raise money for her family. Local artists scheduled to appear include SS-20 (LeMaster once played rhythm guitar for the veteran Punk group), The Tigerlilies, Lovecrush 88, Dead Man String Band, BoozeLords, Tiger Sex, Tommy Grit & The Pricks, Two Inch Winky, New Third Worlds, Everyday Objects, France vs. France, Hammered with Jesus, The Cousin Kissers, Killer Looks And Noise and Android 86, plus DJ Bryan Dilsizian. Massachusetts Punk legend Gang Green (which has featured players from Cincinnati in recent years) also performs. T-shirts will be available to raise more money.

The all-ages benefit concert begins Friday at 9 p.m. and admission is a $10 donation. 

On Oct. 9, another benefit show in LeMaster’s honor is scheduled to take place at Southgate House Revival, featuring many artists who are playing Friday’s event. The concert will raise money for a planned scholarship in LeMaster’s name, which is to be given to a woman studying music annually. You can donate now at 

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected]