Sample wide assortment of blues this weekend

CL mbf-logo“Blues is not about being the preservation society. Blues is a living art.

If it is going to be a living art, the boundaries have to be pushed as well.”

Kevin Kimball, Maine Blues Festival Co-founder


What: Ninth Annual Maine Blues Festival

When: Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight; Sunday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. with Sunday BluesJam starting at 8 p.m. at Bray’s Brewpub & Eatery  

Where: Various venues on the Causeway and throughout Naples

Cost: For Saturday’s events, a wristband is required. Wristband is $12 at participating locations; $16 on Saturday, with ticket locations on the Causeway.

For more info: Check out


By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — No matter the weather this weekend, Naples will roll out the red carpet for the blues.

Blue skies have ruled during the weekend of the Maine Blues Festival for the past eight years.

According to cofounder Michael Bray, there was only one year that the weather was questionable; but, as it turned out, it rained everywhere but Naples. There were a few sprinkles around 10 a.m. after he had breakfast with other organizers. Then, the precipitation held off until after midnight, Bray said.

A sunny, cloud-free day cannot be reserved.

But, definitely, some top-notch Maine musicians have been booked for the annual three-day event.

Anyhow, a little rain does not matter when it comes to enjoying the Ninth Annual Maine Blues Festival, according to cofounder Kevin Kimball.

“People once assumed that because it is a blues festival, the whole thing is outside and completely exposed to the elements. That is just not true,” he said.

The majority of the dozen blues venues are indoors. Other spots like Bray’s Biergarten, the Lost Lobstah, and Tony’s Foodland Stage located at the Village Green provide covered areas.

Additionally, shuttle buses will be running regularly so that festival-goers can sidestep any wet weather, he said.

So, on Saturday there is a 30% chance of rain; and a 100% chance that people will get their blues fix.

Kimball highly recommended that people plan to see and hear Annmarie Smith.

“The way this girl plays slide just lays me out,” he said, adding that Smith is Maine’s own Rory Block.

“She is definitely an act to catch,” he said.

According to Kimball, blues runs the gamut, including the musicians that adhere to the old-school blues and those budding artists who put their own spin on this musical genre.

“Blues, as an art form, is highly-individualized. It’s not as narrow as a lot of folks might believe,” Kimball said.

“On one hand, it is about paying respect to the old pros who have been out there doing it for years,” he said.

Mark Miller, Jimmy Junkins and the Soulcats, and Jeff Christiansen are among those on that list, Kimball said.

“Ed Murphy has to be one of the preeminent blues scholars. He could do a doctorate on the blues,” he said, adding that Murphy plays both the six-string slide guitar and the 12-string guitar.

“Those are the elder statesmen in the ways of the blues. That is why these guys get called year after year after year, he said.

“Blues is also about fostering that mixed generation. How about the Blues Mafia?

The Blues Mafia was founded by a young lady in her 20s, Kristin Chute” who performs on the electric violin in a way that is electrifying, he said.

“Boy, the kid has pipes, and she sizzles,” Kimball said.

“Blues is not about being the preservation society. Blues is a living art.

If it is going to be a living art, the boundaries have to be pushed as well,” he said.

For a taste of what the under-20 musicians have to offer, the Lake Region High School (LRHS) Skazz Kats and Blues Band will be playing at the Village Green. This is the fourth year the band has performed during the festival.

Kimball said he is proud to see budding musicians take interest in the blues. Also, he is thrilled that the organizers of the festival have been able to put proceeds toward assisting with that.

“We have got to the point that we can give back. The Maine Blues Festival Scholarship is awarded at Southern Maine Community College. We fund a Maine Blues Musician Scholarship that goes to a graduating high school senior,” he said.

Additionally, with festival funding, the Blues in Schools Program started this spring.

Both Kimball and Bray expressed gratitude to the Town of Naples for going above and beyond the role of being a great host town.

“This festival could not exist without the town of Naples. I have been doing this for 40 years, and I have never experienced the welcoming attitude like the town of Naples has — from the people in town government to the merchants,” Kimball said.

“I have tried this a couple of times in different towns — believe me,” he said.

He also gave kudos to Anita Preble, who rounds up and oversees the volunteers.

“Anita is my hero. We would be sunk without her. That is the girl who makes the volunteer army happen,” Kimball said.

“It takes a small army of volunteers. We have 20 people who work on this year-round; and on festival day, there are 100 volunteers. And. they do it because they want to do it. They get it — they get what this is about,” he said.

Blues is a very happy, very positive musical form that makes people smile and moves them to get out on the dance floor, he said.

“Blues is so much more than ‘My woman done left me,’ ” Kimball said.

“Blues is perhaps the most egalitarian art form because it is more accessible to musicians and bands than any other legitimate musical art form,” Kimball said.

“Blues is inclusive not exclusive. It resonates with the human condition,” he said.


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