Greater Cincinnati Gets the Blues This Weekend

It’s Christmas in August this weekend for local Blues fans. The big event is the 22nd annual Cincy Blues Fest, presented Friday and Saturday at the riverfront’s Sawyer Point by the Cincy Blues Society.

Sonny Mooran Group
Sonny Mooran Group

It’s Christmas in August this weekend for local Blues fans. The big event is the 22nd annual Cincy Blues Fest, presented Friday and Saturday at the riverfront’s Sawyer Point by the Cincy Blues Society.

Once again, the Blues Fest will feature some excellent national headliners, including soulful New York singer/songwriter Dana Fuchs on Friday and Guy Forsyth and his Hot Nut Riveters on Saturday (see an interview with Forsyth, page 29). But the Blues Fest is also an excellent opportunity to check out some of the best the Cincinnati Blues scene has to offer. The “St. Vincent de Paul/Belterra Park Local Stage” will spotlight area artists all weekend. On Friday, Jay’s Xperience kicks things off at 5:45 p.m., followed by Sweet Alice, The Juice, Leroy Ellington Blues Band and Doug Hart Band.

Saturday’s Local Stage lineup features Lisa Biales, Blue Sacrifice, Jay Jesse Johnson Band, Johnny Fink & the Intrusion, Chuck Brisbin & the Tuna Project and the Noah Wotherspoon Band.

The Main Stage will feature the winners of this year’s Cincy Blues Challenge, who will also be representing Cincinnati at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis early next year. The Sonny Moorman Group (which won the “band” part of the Challenge) plays Saturday at 6 p.m., while the “solo/duo” challenge winner, Jimmy D. Rogers, plays Friday at 5:30 p.m. Local Blues fave Ricky Nye will also be on hand, as always, helming the international lineup of Boogie Woogie Blues pianists at the Arches Boogie Piano Stage on Saturday (and playing at 6:15 p.m.), one of the Cincy Blues Fest’s coolest and most unique features.

Music at the Cincy Blues Fest begins at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and 4:45 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $15 per day. Single-day tickets can be purchased in advance at, where you can also get a two-day pass for just $20 (two-day tickets will also be sold at the gates on Friday).

Check out the full schedule and find more information about Cincy Blues Fest at

• Veteran Blues guitarist/singer Sonny Moorman is one of the hardest working musicians in Greater Cincinnati, playing nearly every night of the week somewhere in the area (and sometimes on the road). But even by Moorman’s standards, this weekend is going to be a crazy busy one.

After playing as a power trio for the past two decades, the Sonny Moorman Group has added a fourth member. Mike Sonderman has been enlisted by the band to play Hammond B-3 organ, joining Moorman and his longtime rhythm section, Dave Fair (drums) and Chris Perreault (bass).

After performing at the Cincy Blues Fest on Saturday, Moorman and his new “power quartet” will pack up and head north to headline the Lebanon Blues Festival in Lebanon, Ohio (visit for full info). The Sonny Moorman Group hits the stage at 9:45 p.m., topping a lineup that includes fellow locals like Cheryl Renee and Robin Lacy & DeZydeco.

Moorman’s won’t be taking Friday night off to rest up for his double-duty Saturday. In fact, he’ll be hosting a release party to celebrate the Sonny Moorman Group’s latest album, Lucky 13, which will be distributed nationally by Atlas Records beginning Tuesday.

The band will perform Friday at Terrace Park’s Roundbottom Ballpark & Grill (, which until recently was known as Township Fields & Tavern, with special guest Six Strings Down. Showtime is 9 p.m. The show will also serve as a fundraiser for the Cincinnati chapter of Guitars 4 Vets, an organization with which Moorman has been heavily involved. The group uses music therapy (guitar lessons) to help military veterans suffering from PTSD.
For the low-down on Moorman and Co., visit

• Greater Cincy’s premier nightclub for the Blues, Northern Kentucky’s Mansion Hill Tavern (502 Washington Ave. Newport, 859-581-0100), will be keeping the good Blues vibes going on Sunday as the club celebrates its 26th anniversary with an all-day live music extravaganza. The party starts at 3 p.m., with music beginning at 5 p.m.
The lineup features some Blues Fest crossover, with The Ben Duke Band, Johnny Fink & the Intrusion, Noah Wotherspoon, The Blue Ravens and Jay Jesse Johnson Band slated to perform. (Don’t be surprised if there is an all-star jam, as well; it’s a common occurrence at Mansion Hill during Blues Fest weekend and Sunday is the club’s regular open jam night.)

• You can also get some post-Blues Fest hair-of-the-dog action on Sunday at The Stadium Sports Bar and Grill in Belterra Park (, the horse race track and gaming center next door to Riverbend. The free Cincy Blues After Fest begins at 3 p.m. with Ricky Nye Inc., who will be joined by the Sonny-Moorman-esque-busy (at least this weekend) Noah Wotherspoon, Leroy Ellington Blues Band and Chuck Brisbin & the Tuna Project.
Visit for more details about the official after-fest shindig.

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected] or @CityBeatMusic

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