Early ticket sales heavy for popular summer event
For the past two years, fans of the Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival have had to make do with virtual concerts due to COVID-19 restrictions, but this year, festival organizers have announced the in-person event is back on.
The 2022 festival is scheduled for July 15-17 at its normal location at the Winthrop Blues Ranch just west of Winthrop at 19190 Highway 20.
“We need to do the festival; we need live events,” said festival organizer Erika Olsen. “It seemed like it was the right time.”
The preliminary lineup was announced Feb. 1, and includes JJ Grey & Mofro, Charlie Musselwhite, Dumpstaphunk, Eric Gales, Too Slim and The Taildraggers, Vanessa Collier, GA-20 and more acts to be announced at a later date.
Too Slim & The Taildraggers have performed at nearly every Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival since it was founded in 1988. JJ Grey and Charlie Musselwhite were scheduled to perform at the canceled 2020 event, but will be back this year, Olsen said.
More top acts
The festival has long been famous for bringing top national acts to the Methow Valley. Rolling Stone says, “Charlie Musselwhite, with unabashed excellence, sets the standard for blues harmonica,” and the New England Blues Review wrote that Vanessa Collier “stands out as a vocalist, sax player, and with a sneak attack guitar ability that brings the ‘old blues’ right into the modern day. Belting out the blues her voice truly transcends the moment and takes you with her on a ride through the emotion and story of each song. There is no moment where you are left just listening, you are truly traveling.”
The Winthrop Music Association (WMA), which runs the festival, wanted to have a live event in 2021, Olsen said, but by spring realized COVID precautions would likely not allow for it. Then, by July the valley was inundated by smoke from the Cedar Creek and Cub Creek 2 fires, and the Blues Ranch became the headquarters for firefighting efforts.
While attendance is capped at 2,500, enthusiasm is high for fans of the festival. As of Feb. 18, about half of available tickets had been sold, Olsen said. Tickets for the weekend cost $140.
“I think what we’re trying to do is just bring back what we’ve always done,” she said.
WMA President Rick Northcott said organizers are adding a few elements, including TV monitors in the beer garden showing action on the stage.
“We always try to add a little something every year to improve the enjoyment,” he said.
As with past years, the 2022 event will also include a Friday night beer-garden concert costing $20.
For more information, go to https://winthropbluesfestival.com.