Maine Blues Fest jamming this weekend in Naples

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CUTLINE: Kevin Kimball, a co-founder of the Maine Blues Festival, brings his music right into the crowd during the 2011 festival. This weekend, a cornucopia of blues artists will be performing at many Naples eating establishments as well as the Village Green. (De Busk Photo)

NAPLES —This weekend, a Maine-bred blues festival is the best bet to lift the spirits, and maybe even cause a few heels to kick up.

And, according to a co-founder of the Maine Blues Festival, the hosting community of Naples “knocks his socks off.”

“This is year seven; and, I am to this day absolutely flabbergasted with this town and its people. The Town of Naples knocks my socks off,” festival co-founder Kevin Kimball said.

“That’s the beauty of it: The town of Naples – they get it. It is just an amazing little community,” he said from the comfort of his home on Tuesday night.

This year, the energy and enthusiasm has crested — with more venues than ever offering music on Friday night. According to Kimball, local business owners are excited to be on board when the blues start playing.

“The energy is the most it has ever been” for the Friday night performances, he said. He added that not only are more entrepreneurs opening the doors of their establishments; but also there are more musicians ready to take the stage.

On Friday night, admission is free. Most bands begin at 7 or 8 p.m. Check out the festival website (www.mainebluesfestival.) for a listing of bands, locations, and performance times.

On Saturday, wristbands will serve as “the ticket” to wander from venue to venue and see what catches one’s ears.

“On Saturday, I just run until I drop,” said Kimball. “But, it is a happy drop. Talk about living the dream — this is it,” he said.

On the big day, Kimball moves quickly from one spot to another — making public announcements, praising the musicians and on more than one occasion picking up his instrument.

This festival has garnered a wide appeal, he said.

On Saturday, the 2012 line-up promises to hit the right note for everybody: Folks and families with the weekend free from work, the Naples business owners who experience a financial boost during the mid-June festival, and the musicians who are happiest when they are playing the blues.

Kimball said organizers always try to “bring in new musicians.”

He recommended checking out Ragged Jack, which he referred to as a rock-a-billy root band.

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What: The Maine Blues Festival.

Where: At numerous Naples establishments around town and on the Causeway, including on the Songo River Queen II and at the Naples Village Green.

When: Friday night through Sunday – with most blues artists’ shows on Saturday.

Cost: On Friday night, there is no admission. During Saturday’s events, festival-goers must buy wristbands at a cost of $12 per person if purchased in advance; and, $16 per person if purchased on festival day. Children under 12 are free; therefore, anyone age 13 years or older pays an admission on Saturday.

Advance tickets: located at the American Legion Post No. 155, Bray’s Brewpub and Eatery, Bull Moose outlets, Evergreen Credit Union, Freedom Café, The Galley, Merced’s on Brandy Pond, Sandy’s on Long Lake, Songo River Queen II, and Tony’s Foodland.

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“They are interesting. Are they strictly blues? Well, a purist would probably say, ‘No.’ That’s okay. I would take that criticism. It’s rock-a-billy. That is one of the branches of blues. So, I am perfectly happy putting a band like that in here. It is based on blues, but has a different beat.”

Kimball said he had already known the drummer in Ragged Jack, and heard the band’s music online and “loved it.” The female musician in the band plays a big bass fiddle, he said.

Another talent to take in: Eleven-year-old Justin Lindsay, who will be playing his electric guitar at the daytime show at the Naples Village Green, and also at the All Star Blues Jam to be held at Bray’s Brewpub and Eatery.

“The short story on this one is I had heard a lot of buzz about this kid. Channel 6’s “207” featured this kid. I saw that episode, and I was floored,” Kimball explained.

“He (Lindsay) is technically brilliant. But, he plays with a maturity that is amazing for an 11-year-old boy,” he said.

“He will play at the Village Green. Then, we are going to put him in front of the grown-ups at the Biergarten,” where he will be paired with his teacher, Denny Breau.

So, whether weekend plans are being billed as dad’s night out or is centered on the family — or it’s a combination of both, everyone can get his or her fill of blues music at this annual festival.

On Saturday, the Village Green offers a kid-friendly atmosphere from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Meanwhile, shuttles will be offered for the duration of the festival on Saturday.

“It is the kind of festival where sometimes people want to get off their feet. If you are a parent herding three kids it is a plus to able to get on the bus,” he said.

“We want people to have a good time. We want them to be safe. So, the shuttles are a no–brainer,” he said.

For more information about shuttle schedules, go to www.mainebluesfestival.

Kimball said people involved with the festival follow the mantra, ‘give back to the community.’

Although the festival operates as a for-profit entity, “we try to act like a nonprofit. If we wind up in the black, we hand out money for kids to go to college,” Kimball said.

This autumn, Maine Blues Festival plans to provide scholarships to seven Maine community colleges.

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