Inaugural Bona Fide Blues Festival offers authentic local Blues

The Memphis Blues Society has announced the inaugural Bona Fide Blues Festival will be held on Oct. 2 and 3 in Overton Square. The two-day festival is the first of its kind to be held in Memphis in nearly half a century, and is being presented by the Memphis Blues Society to pay homage to the city’s blues heritage, honor local musicians and give Memphians an opportunity to see a showcase of legacy blues talent as well as up-and-coming artists that will be the future of blues.
The festival will feature two outdoor stages – at the Tower Courtyard and on Cooper Street – with additional venues at nearby locations including Bar Louie, Lafayette’s Music Room, The Blue Monkey, and The Zebra Lounge. More than 40 acts from an approximate 100-mile-radius of Memphis will play through the weekend. A mix of well-known names and emerging talent will play throughout the weekend, including headliners such as Blind Mississippi Morris, The Bo Keys, Delta Joe Sanders, Kenny Brown and more. The outdoor stages are free, and attendees can buy wristbands for $25 which will allow them access to the additional stages at the multi-venue locations in the evening. The festival is part of Bridging the Blues, a multi-state effort to boost blues-related development in Arkansas, Memphis and Mississippi.
“We designed this festival to honor local blues musicians in their own land and build excitement and appreciation for the many talented artists that hail from this region,” said John Gemmill, President of the Memphis Blues Society. “Many of our acts already play across the country as part of other festivals or tours, but are seldom given the opportunity to play here in Memphis alongside their peers at an event dedicated to blues. Our festival builds on Memphis’ blues heritage and positions the city as a distribution center for the blues for years to come.”
The Memphis Blues Society has been a supporter of local blues musicians since 2005, and in 2014 began the Bluesday Tuesday series in Overton Square. The success of that event sparked the idea to build a stand-alone festival, inspired by the historic Country Blues Festival put on by Irv Silky, Jim Dickinson, Charles Brown and Sid Selvedge that occurred in 1969 at the Overton Park Shell.
Overton Square is a natural fit for this festival, building on the success of Bluesday Tuesdays. “The blues are a natural fit for Overton Square, as the blues are Memphis’ most notable musical contribution to the country’s cultural and entertainment life,” said Bob Loeb, president of Loeb Properties, developers of Overton Square and other Midtown commercial centers. “We are delighted to partner with the Memphis Blues Society to bring a blues festival to Overton Square, the preeminent burgeoning cultural and entertainment district in the city.”
In addition to Loeb Properties, other local organizations and businesses have partnered with the Memphis Blues Society to support the festival, including the Gibson Companies, Tennessee Arts Commission, Madison Avenue Business Association, the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis and Archer Malmo.
Learn more at their website.
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