to the Point
Blues to the Point festival
reaches its 10th year
Helen E. McKinney
CARROLLTON, Ky. (September 2004) Blues performers
have a story all their own to tell. It is a story of the American society
and its cultural influences, and if listeners feel that story, then
a performer has reached his goal.
The Blues Cruisers will perform
in Carrollton in September.
The blues is a feeling, and in blues music the right
FEEL is more important than technical virtuosity, said Dave Hunt,
keyboard and guitar player for The Blues Cruisers. Hunts band
will be the opening act for this years Blues to the Point, Two
Rivers Festival on Sept. 10-11 at Carrolltons Point Park.
The setting is beautiful, and the pavilion is kind of like an
old-time bandstand in the park. The atmosphere is very relaxed and laid-back,
said Hunt. Although this will be the first time The Blues Cruisers have
actually played this festival, Hunt has participated before as a fan.
The Blues Cruisers will play the opening set both days, getting things
started at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, and 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11. An
impressive lineup of regional and national touring acts are scheduled
We receive over 1,000 artist submissions each year, so finding
good talent is not all that difficult, said organizer Doug Ramsey.
This will be the 10th year for the Blues to the Point festival. Eleven
years ago, a group of visionary blues fans met to discuss the idea of
bringing the blues to Carrollton. The result was the establishment of
the non-profit Carroll County Cultural Events, Inc..
The citizens of this great community embraced our efforts with
open arms, giving us the support we needed, and here we are 10 years
later, said Ramsey. Their willingness to treat our guests
as family is just one of the many assets that make this area truly unique.
Hunt described The Blues Cruisers music as an eclectic retro mix.
The band plays mostly Chicago blues, jump blues and Delta blues, with
most of their material dating from the 1940s and 1950s. Members include
Brick Marlin on harmonica, Bob Lee as lead vocalist, Doc Bergner on
drums, Robert Hebble on upright acoustic bass, and Hunt on keyboard
The band has played such local venues as Twice Told Performance Café
in La Grange, Ky., and Zenas in Louisville. They mostly perform
in the Kentuckiana and Central Kentucky areas, producing the most
authentic blues sound they can, said Hunt.
Ramsey said the Toledo, Ohio, area has some of the greatest blues fans
in the country through their Black Swamp Blues Society, and he always
tries to have a band from their region along with Memphis, Tennessee
and Louisville. He also works very close with national talent agencies,
such as Peidmont Talent and record labels like Alligator to secure national
One successful blues band is Big Al & the Heavyweights, who will
close out Friday nights show by taking the stage at 10:30. Big
Al & the Heavyweights will provide the momentum that will carry
over into Saturdays lineup, Ramsey said.
Together since 1992, audiences can expect to see lots of fun,
energy and nonstop Gumbo Groovin. A little something for everyone,
said Big Al, Al Lauro. Lauro grew up surrounded by the sounds
of New Orleans music.
Lauro credits longevity as a highlight of the bands career. They
have been featured three times on Chef Emeril Lagasses Emeril
Live, a Cajun and Creole cooking show on the Food Network.
Such national acts are a catalyst for the main goal of the festival
organization, which is to bring tourists into the county. The blues
festival is funded in part by the Carrollton-Carroll County Tourism
Corporate sponsors and countless volunteers ensure that the festival
will go off without a hitch each year. Debbie Clifton is one of these
volunteers and also a member of the group. She was introduced to blues
music four years ago while employed by Ramsey at his local business.
He would bring promos in and have her listen to them while she worked,
If you stop and really listen to blues music, it captures you,
said Clifton. With the river as a backdrop, Carrollton provides one
of the best venues around. Groups of true, loyal blues followers
come from as far away as Canada, Oregon and California for this festival,
Back to September 2004