Just before last year’s Bowlful of Blues festival, co-headliner and guitar virtuoso John Primer declared that “the Blues was coming to town.”
Although Primer won’t be returning, the blues is indeed coming back to town this year as the 22nd annual Bowlful of Blues festival kicks off at noon Saturday at Maytag Park. This year’s theme is “True Blue 22.”
“It’s good cheap entertainment,” said Mike Pender, president of the South Skunk Blues Society, which plans the annual event. “It’s family friendly and we got a great line-up.”
Pender said that SSBS has been working on this year’s show since February, after they formed a six person committee to select which acts would perform. In addition to the musical acts, Cardinal Corner will be selling ice cream, SSBS will have a pulled pork booth and another vendor will be offering Cajun cuisine.
Regional act The Harvest Band will get things started playing from noon to 1:30 p.m. The band is made up of the Robinson brothers, Jimmy on the drums and harmonica, and Tom, who plays guitar and keyboard. Bass player Mark Bailey rounds out the trio and Newton’s own John Mattingly will be playing alongside the group.
All three members of the band sing, and their live shows can range from classic rock, country, blues, reggae and some of their original recordings.
Ben Green will entertain attendees with his acoustic blues style following every set.
At 2 p.m., classic R&B group Sumpin Doo featuring Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members George and Gilbert Davis will hit the stage. The Davis brothers founded the group and retired from it in 2012 after nearly six decades of performing. Sumpin Doo plays everything from blues to gospel and have been a staple of the Des Moines music scene since the ’60s.
Following another 30 minute set by Green, another Des Moines area band, Hot Tamale and the Red Hots will perform from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Cindy “Hot Tamale” Grill is the lead singer of the band and has been a professional vocalist for nearly 30 years.
The Red Hots are made up of vocalist/guitarist Dave “Bonedaddy” Jenks, harmonica player Kevin Bodtke, drummer Bobby Cassady and bass player Robert Bayse. The group specializes in the blues, however, they are adept at other genres as well.
At 6 p.m., international touring act the Kilborn Alley Blues Band will hit the stage. The band, based just outside of Chicago, makes no bones about it — they play the blues and they play it well, according to more than few reviewers:
“The Kilborn Alley Blues Band plays the blues like they mean it. No . . . Like they have no choice in the matter. They make me remember why I became attached to this music in the first place,” said a critic reviewing their 2007 album “Tear Chicago Down.”
Andrew Duncanson leads on vocals and guitar. The band is rounded out by Josh Stimmel on guitar, Chris Breen on bass and drummer Ed O’Hara.
Closing out the show will be a band Blues Blast Magazine labeled as “Chicago royalty” the Cash Box Kings. Multiple blues publications list CBK as one of the top upcoming old school blues band in the country. The band features a rotating cast of members that is anchored by vocalist/guitarist Oscar Wilson, vocalist/harmonica player Joe Nosek and drummer/vocalist Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith.
SSBS is hoping this year’s line-up will help them capitalize on the success of last year’s Bowlful.
“We had roughly 800 people last year, which was 200 to 300 more than we ever had and I’d like to reach that again this year,” Pender said.
Once performances have ended, there will be an after party-jam at American Legion Post 111 hosted by the Kilborn Alley Blues Band. Advance tickets are $15 and can be purchased in Newton at Hy-Vee and Mattingly’s Music & Books and at Cadillac Jack’s in Baxter. Tickets are $20 at the gate.