By Mike McKenney, ROCK AT NIGHT New England
Location: India Point Park, Providence, Rhode Island-June 22nd & 23rd, 2019
Summer has finally arrived and the festival season opened with a smoking hot, Rhode Island BBQ & Blues lineup jam packed with incredible local and national talent.
After an eternity of rain this spring, everyone was primed to get outside and enjoy the weather, and this waterfront festival was the perfect place to be on this first weekend of summer. While temps climbed into the 80’s, and a bright sun shining, even a few pop up showers couldn’t dampen these enthusiastic blues fans of all ages, as they began filling the park as early as 11am.
With the smoky aromas of BBQ waffling over the venue, the talented Jake Kulak and the LowDown got the music started off right with their blend of modern and traditional guitar-driven blues.
Meanwhile vendors of every ilk were doing a brisk business. From the Merch stand, to Wild Bill’s Old Fashioned soda, the lines were forming, and local favorites Del’s lemonade, Narragansett beer, Hill’s Food Service, and local honey, served a steady stream loyal customers.
Of course it was the BBQ that shared center stage with the music. Rhode Island may be the Ocean State but we do know our BBQ, as delicious pulled pork, ribs, and brisket with slaw flowed endlessly from food trucks all day.
Back on the dock, it was all about the music as band after band took to the stage performing every variety of Blues possible. Blues is and has always been somewhat an enigma, a genre that encompasses everything from the soulful sounds of traditional blues reminiscent of Muddy Waters, BB King, and T-Bone Walker, to the more modern, edgier, guitar shredding styles that have become more pervasive now.
While promising young musicians such as Jake Kulak, and Baxter Hall hone their craft, the more seasoned veterans, Slam Allen Band, Black & White Band, and TD James Band continue to push the boundaries. A close listen of these great blues bands and the origins of rock legends such as Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple are revealed.
Tjay and The Tall Boys, mixed it up with Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” and powerhouse Heidi Nirk and her band got the crowd up on their feet as they slammed their set with “Whammer Jammer”, “Stealin’ Watermelon”, “Have Me a Real Good Time” , and “That’s What Love will Make You Do”.
From the beautiful India Point Park boutique venue on Providence’s waterfront, to the great variety of BBQ and local foods, topped off by the best Blues lineup assembled, Organizer TJ McNulty and his crew at Grand Festivals made sure the “2nd Annual Rhode Island BBQ & Blues Festival” set the benchmark for future festivals to beat!
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