Making it to 21 years old is quite a feat. What makes this feat even more impressive is just a few years ago the South Skunk Blues Society was ready to throw in the towel on one of the premier events at the Maytag Bowl.
“We about lost it,” SSBS President Craig Peterson said. “We were going to quit after 2010. We got rained out, and rain insurance didn’t cover it. We had bands from Des Moines that volunteered to play for us, and we ended that year with like 330-something dollars.”
Although the SSBS is a non-profit organization, bringing premier acts in for its signature show is an expensive matter.
“It costs a lot. I mean these bands, they have to make a living,” Peterson said. “There are a lot of expenses that go along with it, and we were going to throw in the towel. Then the community, in many different ways said, ‘Don’t do it, don’t quit.’ So we revived the Skunk, as you can say, back in 2011.”
Other regional blues societies allowed them to sell raffle tickets at their events. First Avenue Speakeasy owner Kim Johnson started booking blues acts, and the SSBS rekindled its relationships with local businesses.
Now the festival is stronger than ever, thanks to generous sponsors, overwhelming community support and expanded avenues to spread the message.
“Our mission is to keep the blues alive,” Peterson said. “Our job is to keep that alive, and with blues in the Schools (program) that we started, in earnest, a couple years ago, we can help educate the young kids with the history of the blues. We are trying to remind people and help people understand the basis, that blues is the American music.”
Peterson is ready for the show, and judging from the comments on both the SSBS and the Bowl’s Facebook pages, so are the fans.
“This is a time where people can see old friends, make new ones, sit back and listen to some music and enjoy themselves in the park,” Peterson said.