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By JON BECRAFT
The threat of inclement weather may have kept some blues fans at bay Friday night, but overall, the 2008 Blues to the Point festival seemed to be a success.
Volunteer Nicole Dunn said the event drew at least 500 people on Saturday.
Throughout the event, headliners performed under the pavilion, with the Ohio River as a backdrop. On Friday, Frankfort’s Blackstone, kicked things off with its heavy “grunge”-influenced blues/rock amalgam.
In between the headliners’ sets, other performers, such as Kentucky blues legend Roy Gentry, kept the crowd entertained at the “accoustic stage,” set up at the shelterhouse.
Gentry and his three backup musicians covered a range of hallowed blues and jazz standards from Fats Waller, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters – with a little Bing Crosby sprinkled in.
Next up Louisville’s Lamont Gillispie and 100 Proof returned to the festival, with a splash of big-band blues swing that got the otherwise tranquil Carrollton crowd on its feet.
Acclaimed blues guitarist Sonny Moorman followed Gillispie on the Acoustic Stage, wowing the crowd with his impossibly technical guitar skills.
Finishing off the opening evening was Mighty Lester, about as big of a blues sound as they come. Dripping with authentic New Orleans horn splashes and a pinch of Motown for good measure, this combo left Friday’s crowd bobbing their heads long after the last note had been played.
The headlining events of Saturday evening were coupled with a glorious contrast in weather to the previous night. A relatively cloudless sky and an abundance of sunshine welcomed guests to the Park, who came in droves.
Smooth East Coast Jazz/ Blues Fusion impresario Ricky Nye hit the ground running in the early evening, offering a slew of upscale White-Blues, which delighted all who surrounded the grassy face of the park’s performance area.
An unexpected highlight of the festival was 23-year-old solo act Hambone. Hailing from Louisville and armed with an electric guitar, a bottle-neck slide, half a drum set – and no shirt – the cherub-faced young man seemed to channel the spirit of the oldest, most withered bluesman of the murkiest bayou in Louisiana.
An oasis of vigor and grit, Hambone’s performance delivered the most genuine “blues” music of the two-day event.
Tim Krekel was in usual form, delivering on the promise of toe-tapping, grin-inducing rock and roll. Blue notes bounced around the Main Stage like tennis balls, much to the enchantment of fans young and old.
Peaceful, mellow, melancholy-soaked, and entirely authentic, blues music was next on the list, coming from Louisville’s Tyrone Cotton, who, teamed with a stand-up bass, tickled the strings of his acoustic guitar, softly plucking a lullaby to the eager listeners tucked into the River’s edge.
The festival’s headliners, The Amazing Rhythm Aces, a nationally known blues-rock act from Memphis, wrapped up the weekend quite nicely, finishing where Mighty Lester had left off the night before, leaving the festival-goers on their feet, bobbing and swaying, anxious to start the party over again next year.