The skies were cloudy, the temperatures dipped. The rain even moved in for a brief time. But it was not enough to kill the heat being thrown off from the Chesapeake bay Blues Festival being held at Sand Point State Park.
The first day of the festival opened with local (Washington) band Bad Influence with their original blend of Chicago blues, swing, American roots and tinge of rock, packaged with an energy-charged delivery that had the crowd on their feet. Boston’s Jesse Dee was up next. Dee is a modern day soul man pulling inspiration from old school soul and updating it for today’s audience. He did not disappoint. Nikki Hill is a southern firecracker with boundless energy. With gospel roots and a seemingly bottomless supply of “dancing her ass off”, the crowd followed suit!
Samantha Fish took to the giant stage overlooking the Chesapeake Bay with her hard blues. At only 22, she is a newcomer, but ready to take the world by storm. It seemed impossible for the strong, raspy, soulful vocals to come from such a small package but they filled the grounds and had the crowd chanting for more when she was done.
The hard rocking blues of Lucky Peterson brought the crowd to the front of the festival and pressed against the stage. Peterson was a child prodigy and was literally born into the blues–his dad owned a renowned club in Buffalo. But it was his chops and talent that landed him on The Tonight Show, Ed Sullivan, and many others while still a child.
Up next was my favorite of the day (and one of the best reasons to attend)–Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue. Decked out in his Ray Bans, the versatile horn player (trumpet and trombone) had the crowd screaming for more as they swayed and danced to the beat. But the highlight of the set was when a 15-year old fan was moving through the crowd with a green trombone in hopes to have the artist sign it. Shorty noticed and pulled up Griffin Delisle of Eldersburg on stage taunting the sophomore to show the world what he had. And he did. The set ended with Shorty and Griffin blowing horn side by side. The teen literally floated off the stage and the crowd went wild. Incidentally, one of the schools on Delisle’s radar is Tulane University in Shorty’s hometown of New Orleans.
Wrapping up the day was Eric Burden and the Animals. One of the things I love about festivals is that I always learn something new or discover a new favorite artist. While I knew many of Burden’s hits from The Animals, I did not know he was also the lead singer for War. And with that, the crowd was treated to some old favorites from The Animal and War. Spill The Wine, House of the Rising Sun, and several songs from his latest album Til Your River Runs Dry all thrilled the crowd.
The Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival continues tomorrow with seven acts including Deanna Bogart, Indigenous, Mavis Staples and headliner-Bonnie Raitt. Tickets are available at the gate for $75. Parking is limited, but there is a shuttle from the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium to Sandy Point State Park.
Video to come!