MINOT — At first, it appeared as though Ken Wood was going to be perfectly mellow.

Then, the band started to play and the 64-year-old Portland man couldn’t contain himself. He began to do a slightly modified version of the twist, right there in the wide-open field of R. E. Hemond Farm. He jabbed his fists at the air. He swayed back and forth like a surfer on the green grass. The music had him and it wouldn’t let him go.

“I love it,” the mustachioed Wood said in the seconds between songs. “Having a great time.”

Yummy and Mitchell’s Low Down and Dirty Blues Festival was just getting underway. In fact, it was in the only minutes-old Friday afternoon when the Dave Mello Blues Band began to play.

That’s right, THE Dave Mello.

“We’ve got some of the best blues bands in the state coming,” said Mitchell Raubeson, son of Yummy Raubeson. “It’s going to be a hell of a good time.”

By 5 p.m., a half-dozen tents were already set up. Campers were parked here and there, and six-packs were just being popped open. It was all systems go for a weekend of blues, except for one thing: the weather.

“It’s wet,” said Cathy Poliquin, staking out the park entrance to collect fees and greet guests. “It’s a little chilly and the wind is picking up. At this point, you just smile and wait for people to come.”

And they did come, although it was just a trickle at first. People were still getting out of work. Some were waiting out the drizzle. Good weather is in the forecast and big crowds are expected over the weekend.

Not that it mattered to Wood, who didn’t seem to notice whether it was wet or dry. He danced through Mello’s first two songs and two more after that.

“I just wish there were more people,” he said. “There ought to be some dancing girls out here.”

Wood thought he was just popping in for the night. He loves blues music and he thought just a few hours of it would sate his appetite. He had to be back in Portland later in the evening. After that?

“I’m real tempted to come back,” Wood said.

The Raubeson pair, father and son, worked with Mike Hemond and the rest of the Hemond family to bring the blues to the vast property best known for motocross racing.

“We threw this together in six weeks,” Yummy Raubeson said. “Maybe less than six weeks. I really hope we can raise some money for the charities.”

The event was organized in large part to benefit Lewiston’s Safe Voices and Sexual Assault Crisis Center, a program Mitchell and Yummy vetted themselves before deciding to direct profits there. With that taken care of, the men were free to concentrate on the business at hand — that business being music.

By 6 p.m., Wood was joined by a few other people who danced in the field, sometimes spinning in circles, sometime jumping up and down. Others sat in lawn chairs in front of the stage, while others stood in front of their tents, sipping beer and tapping their feet.

The smell of woodsmoke was at times heavy as vendors prepared food to sell from booths. Between performances, there was the occasional chatter from various animals that populate the farm.

“If you hear something that sounds really awful, that’s just the pigs mating,” Poliquin said.

It didn’t turn out to be a problem.

As the clouds parted and late afternoon turned into early evening, the band just played and played.

Yummy and Mitchell’s Low Down and Dirty Blues Festival

Wide Open Acres at R. E. Hemond Farm

695 Woodman Hill Road, Minot

Saturday, Aug. 23

Eric Green Party — 12:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.

Tommy O’Connell and The Juke Joint Devils — 2:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Bonnie Edwards and The Practical Cats — 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Black Cat Road Blues Band — 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Mega Blues Jam w/all the bands 10 p.m. to 12 midnight

Sunday, Aug. 24

Jimmy’ Jo & the Jumbol’Ayahs Cajun Blues Band — 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Trailer Trash Blues Band — 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.


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