Commentary

Eureka Springs Blues Weekend

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About The Blues

By Liz Lottmann

 

0618-liz

Scott Ambush and Liz Lottmann at Eureka Springs Blues Weekend

This year’s Eureka Springs Blues Weekend, man, what a great show. Charles and Lori Ragsdell set up a brilliant festival, and volunteers came from all over the country to help out. I got a chance to lurk in the wings backstage at The Auditorium with folks like Hubert Sumlin, a native of Arkansas and a true blues heritage artist.

I was working artist hospitality at the Basin Park ballroom, and heard three outstanding women artists: E.G. Kight, Deanna Bogart and Candy Kane. Sheesh, what a collection of female pulchritude and attitude. Besides being extraordinary musicians and songwriters, they each put on a great show. Deanna and I had met when I sat in with the Tommy Castro Blues Cruise band he brought through Fayetteville last year. So we had a good chat. 

The biggest old-home-days surprise for me was to see who is playing bass with Deanna these days: Scott Ambush. Scott plays bass in the jazz fusion band, Spyro Gyra, who are good friends of mine from my Rochester, N.Y., days. Scott and Paul Hughes (Cherry Brooks’ guitar player) were in a band together many years ago. It was great to see Scott.

I took a break on Saturday afternoon from my duties and went across the street to check out Kory Montgomery’s soundcheck at the Squid & Whale and another old-home-days moment popped up, our long-lost NWA blues wailer Jennifer Beaver was there. She was to sing with Isayah Warford later that night, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get free to see them perform. But I did get over later to sit in with Kory. When I walked in the joint, Kory and his band had the crowd whipped into a frenzy. What a great band they are.

Lots of Ozark Blues Society members volunteered for the festival, and it was so good to have everyone take part. Kate Wallis helped the Blues Foundation sell their merchandise; Paul Kelso and Lisa worked as media VIPs, but also pitched in with other duties; Juergen Lottmann was backstage security; Jan Mortensen helped sell festival merch; and there were so many others who I didn’t get to see. 

Some volunteers came long distances to help out: Joe and Sara Whitmer of the Blues Foundation; Ricky Stevens, a Blues Foundation board member; Kyle Deibler, president of the Phoenix Blues Society; and lots of others who would be treated like VIPs at other festivals came to work. As I always say, I highly recommend volunteering at a blues event. You’ll make great friends!

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