Kent Blues Festival hoped to be a success

Dawn Einsel

For two nights this weekend, the sound of guitars, harmonicas and melancholy voices will echo through downtown Kent.

After a successful first run last year, the Kent Blues Festival will return to showcase more than 15 bands at 12 venues, all within walking distance of each other.

The performances will begin Friday with Akron General Medical Center presenting Colin Dussault’s Blues Project at the Home Savings Bank Plaza. Local artists like Mike Lenz, Ian Penter, Cleveland Fats, Misery Jackals and The Numbers Band will take over the bar scene. On Saturday, the James Cotton Blues Band will perform with Guy Davis at The Kent Stage.

“There is something about the blues and, frankly, booze that go well,” said festival organizer Bob Burford, commenting on the brews and blues concept that has been well received elsewhere in Northeast Ohio. “People gravitate to it.”

The event was fashioned after the Folk Alley ‘Round Town night and stemmed from requests from restaurant and bar owners as well as patrons of the folk festival, he said.

Like its model, the Blues Festival shows promise in popularity and longevity. It has already grown in the short time since its inception. Burford expects attendance to be somewhere in the thousands, considering that all seven venues were filled to capacity last year.

Burford said he is open to the idea of even more expansion in the future.

“I think we can make the city a destination for music,” he said. “A good summer day, free blues music wafting through the air; you can’t go wrong.”

Contact entertainment reporter Dawn Einsel at [email protected].

Kent Blues Festival Schedule


Home Savings Plaza

Kickoff Concert

Colin Dussault’s Blues Project

5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Presented by Akron General Medical Center

157 Lounge

Mike Lenz: 8 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Buffalo Wild Wings

Frankie Starr Band: 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.


Wanda Hunt Band: 9 p.m. – midnight

Kent Stage

Eric Noden & Friends

8 p.m. – 11 p.m.

The Loft

Cleveland Fats: 8 p.m. – 11 p.m.


Juke Hounds: 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

The Pub

Austin Walkin’ Cane: 11 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Ray’s Place

Numbers Band (15-60-75): 9 p.m. – midnight

Venice Café

The Bluestones: 8 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Water St. Tavern

Bongo Joe & Little Steve-O: 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Midlife Chryslers: 9:30 p.m. – midnight

Zephyr Pub

Ian Penter: 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Misery Jackals: 9 p.m. – 10 p.m. Damn Gallows: 10 p.m. – 1 a.m.


The Kent Stage

James Cotton Blues Band with guest Guy Davis