ALPENA - An all-star lineup of nine blues bands will be in Alpena this weekend to help stamp out hunger during the 10th annual Alpena Blues Festival. The two-day event at the Alpena County Fairgrounds is scheduled to begin Friday at 6 p.m. with three acts on the bill, followed by a full day of performances Saturday.
Now a decade old, the festival has become a mainstay event in Alpena every summer and is a popular draw for those within the local community, as well as for those from out of the area. Alpena Blue's Festival Coalition President Ed Hickok said this year's entertainers were selected based on the response of people who had attended previous events.
"Every band that is here this year is back because the public wants them back," Hickok said. "We polled people and festival-goers from years back and the band selection committee examined everything very closely to make sure we were getting the creme de la creme of the bands who have been here before and been crowd favorites. We literally get thousands of bands that approach us to play from all over the country and I believe this year we have many of the best."
The event also is going to be used to help those who struggle themselves and their families in Alpena. People are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item to the concert which will be a part of a large donation after the final blue's riff ends.Vice President Tom Rose said the fundraising aspect of the festival is the most important.
"Our theme is Stamping Out Hunger with the Blues," Rose said. "Every year we try to give back to the community as much as possible and this year the food and hopefully an additional donation from us will be distributed to local charities to help feed our brothers and sisters right here in our backyard. This is probably the most important part of the festival at this point. We really wanted to do something important and the Stamp Out Hunger with the Blues is the biggest angle we are using to promote the festival."
Friday night will be capped off with a performance by headliner Motor City Josh and the Big 3. Saturday's entertainment will begin at 12:30 p.m. and will feature six bands with The Lindsey Alexander Band wrapping up the festival. Hickok said the show is open to people of all ages and there will be food and drinks available, as well as camping at the fairgrounds.
"There will food and drinks available and even though there will be alcohol served, it is still a family event. There will also be vendors with jewelry. There will be a lot of things for people to enjoy," Hickok said. "We have hired GT Sounds, which is one of the best in the business and the show will go on rain or shine. The stage is covered and so is the grandstands. If by some chance things were really bad we would move things into the Merchants Building, so we have a place to play no matter what the weather is."
Advance tickets are on sale at Neiman's Family Market or Jimmy Garant's Party Store. A Friday ticket is $5 and a ticket for the longer day Saturday is $10. For more information call Randy at 657-9313 or visit www.alpenablues.com.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com