NAPLES – They’ll be singing the blues in Naples this weekend, but that’s a good thing.

The third annual Maine Blues Festival kicks into high gear Saturday with about 30 groups and individual performers appearing throughout the community at eight to 10 locations. Also, Friday night pre-event performances (free admission) will be at Point Sebago Resort, Bray’s Brewpub, Freedom Cafe and a block party at Tony’s Foodland.

It’s called the Maine Blues Festival because its focus is home-state singers and musicians.

“The most important thing is that this festival is, by design, exclusively for Maine artists, said organizer Kevin Kimball. “You don’t have to import talent to Maine because there’s plenty of it right here.”

Kimball, who is lead singer and slide guitar player with his band, said thousands of people are expected to attend this year’s festival. He described the event as an equal treat for dedicated blues fans or for people out for summer fun.

“The beauty of this festival is that we don’t do star treatment or headliners,” Kimball said, noting both new and widely known established blues performers are on the program. The music will be nonstop at locations ranging from outdoor stages to pubs that will rock well into the night.

Kimball said the town of Naples and its business community have thrown whole-hearted support behind the event.

There will be performances at locations around the Naples Causeway on Route 302 and within a short distance of that central point – with three shuttle buses in operation on Saturday. If it rains, the multiple venues will offer options to keep the music going.

A new educational component of the festival is something that Kimball points to with pride.

He emphasized that the event is kid-friendly. Pat Pepin, a popular blues singer who puts Maine humor in her act, will present a children’s program from 1:40 to 2:40 p.m. at the Village Green Gazebo. Describing a previous children’s event by Pepin, Kimball said, “She had those kids just wound up.”

Denny Breau of Lewiston, whose guitar skills are recognized throughout the nation, will give a guitar clinic from 3 to 4 p.m. at the gazebo.

Kimball said the key to bringing so many outstanding acts together in one place at the same time is the opportunity they have to network. The performers love to renew acquaintances with other musicians at impromptu jam sessions for performers and members of the public around 9 a.m. Saturday.

The Maine Blues Festival began in 2006 when Kimball and Mike Bray of Bray’s Brewpub and Eatery decided to invite several acts to play there. It was a “mini-festival,” Kimball said, but there was so much enthusiasm that they said, “How about we get serious with this?”

From that start, “It just evolved. It’s not that we did it,” Kimball said.

Most festivals “never get off the ground” or fall by the wayside because they ran in the red, he remarked, noting the Maine Blues Festival wound up on the plus side in its first year.

The official opening will be at noon Saturday, June 14, on the Naples Village Green. That is a free venue.

The day’s $15 ticket ($10 in advance) gets admission to locations, including Bray’s Brewpub and Eatery, Freedom Cafe and Pub, North Shore Tavern, Rick’s Cafe, Sandy’s on the Flight Deck, Shaker’s, Songo River Queen II, Tiki Bar and Grill, American Legion Post 155 and Tony’s Foodland. Sydney’s Bar and Grill is another free venue.

Among the many performers are Mark “Guitar” Miller, Eric Green, the Disclaimers, D.W. Gill and the Blues Prophets, Bad Daddies, Shawn Mercer and the Boondocks Blues Band, Deja Blues, Dave Mello, Paul Lowell and the Blues Trio, the Sensations, Blind Alert, Annmarie Smith, Blues Challenger, Bawlmer Slim and Meantone, the Blind Lemons, Breau, Matt and the Barnburners, Pam Baker and the SGs, Big Chief, Zack Pomerleau Blues Band, Bonnie Edwards and the Practical Cats, the Delta Knights, Pat Colwell, Trailer Trash, Tyger-Tyger, Scott Davis, New Blues Revue, Rick Miller and the Gate Street Blues, Juke Joint Devils, Travis James Humphries, Wooden Eye, 50-50 Blues Band, Poke Chop, Jimmy and the Soulcats, Don Brewer Blues Project, Blue Willow Band and Luther James.

A full schedule and ticket information are available online at www.mainebluesfestival.com.


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