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Annual Blues Festival next weekend

June 15, 2012
Jordan Travis - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ALPENA Blues musicians from Northeast Michigan will be among the acts laying down the groove at the ninth annual Alpena Blues Festival.

For two days starting Friday, nine acts will play at the Alpena County Fairgrounds, Tom Rose, vice president of the Alpena Blues Coalition, said. A special jam session will be held at the end of each night.

The decade-old nonprofit group once again is organizing the event that brings local, regional and national blues acts to the banks of the Thunder Bay River, Rose said. This year, the early response has been encouraging.

"We're having a much better year than we've ever had before response-wise, because we've taken a few different business steps," he said. "We utilized the Internet and networking sites like Facebook more, we updated our web page and we're staying in better contact with people."

The Friday show kicks off with The New Disposition Blues Band, a group with local ties, Rose said. Saturday's show begins with a performance by LeeAnn Dunkelberger, who moved to New York after growing up in Northeast Michigan. It's part of the coalition's efforts to promote Alpena.

"We try to get a flavor out there for everybody, and remember our roots, of course," he said.

Three acts will play on the first night, and six will perform on the second, according to the festival lineup, Rose said. The Blues Coalition works to make sure there are no repeat acts from the year before.

"We have some great talent from all around the (Great Lakes) region," he said, adding the coalition also tries to pick bands that people may have heard before.

Local musicians also will have a chance to join a blues jam held in the Merchants Building Friday, Rose said. Anyone who joins the Blues Coalition can play with some members of the stage acts performing that night. This opportunity won't be available on Saturday night's jam party, which will still feature musicians from the night's performances.

Camping is available again this year, but is being handled by fairgrounds staff, Rose said. Anyone interested in reserving a site should call the fairgrounds at 356-1847 and leave a message.

Tickets are available at Neiman's Family Market in the Thunder Bay Shopping Center and Jimmie Garant's, 1226 W. Chisholm Street, Rose said. They're also available for purchase online at the festival website for pickup at the will-call booth at the fairgrounds.

"We're coming into the computer age and trying to make life easier for everyone," he said.

Another factor behind the success of the Blues Festival are the volunteers who make it happen, Rose said.

"It's all pulling together toward a common goal that makes it happen, and the tireless efforts on the part of the coalition," he said.

Food and crafts vendors also will be at the festival, Rose said.

Blues is more than just 12-bar progressions and pentatonic scales to many people, Rose said. Some people he's spoke with are surprised to find out their favorite songs were written or made famous by blues musicians.

The genre also has its roots in this country, Rose said.

"It's one of the few music forms that is truly American," he said.

For more information, visit , or call Rose at 379-3711.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688.



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