All-star lineup for three-day event
As the Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival website says, “It’s happening!”
After COVID forced blues lovers to go for two years without the memorable July weekend of spirited blues, funk, dancing and hanging with friends, the festival is back, with a first-rate line-up. As always, the festival showcases blues legends and electrifying up-and-coming talents.
The 35th anniversary of the award-winning R&B Festival runs from July 15 to 17, starting with the classic Friday-night party in the Blues Ranch Big Top Beer Garden, spiced with music and humor from Junkyard Jane and incredible vocals and wailing sax from Vanessa Collier.
Saturday starts out mellow with slide guitarist Hector Anchondo. On Saturday afternoon, Seattle-based songwriter, storyteller and activist Lady A shows why she’s called the Queen of Groove as she belts out funk, soul and gospel-influenced blues.
Friday, July 15 – Big Top Beer Garden (21 and over)
Benefit for The Cove food bank and other local nonprofits
7 p.m. Hector Anchondo
7:45 p.m. Junkyard Jane
9:30 p.m. GA-20
11:15 p.m. Vanessa Collier
Saturday, July 16
11 a.m. Hector Anchondo
12:30 p.m. Junkyard Jane
2 p.m. Lady A
4 p.m. Vanessa Collier
6 p.m. Eric Gales
8 p.m. Dumpstaphunk
10 p.m. JJ Grey & Mofro
11:30 p.m. to close Methow Juke Joint All-Stars in the Big Top Beer Garden
Sunday, July 17
11 a.m. Lady A’s Gospel Hour featuring Josephine Howell
12:30 p.m. Zach Person
2 p.m. Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble
3:30 p.m. Outer Orbit
5:15 p.m. Charlie Musselwhite
7 p.m. Too Slim & the Taildraggers
9 p.m. to close Methow Juke Joint All-Stars in the Big Top Beer Garden
Gear up for a high-energy show Saturday night with rock guitarist Eric Gales, New Orleans–influenced funk-fusion from Dumpstaphunk, and rousing groove from headliner JJ Grey & Mofro.
Lady A is back Sunday morning to host the gospel hour, featuring the spiritual, melodious sound of Josephine Howell. The performers keep the audience moving with American roots from Zach Person, Creole-inspired blues and soulful vocals from Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble, and the funk-soul collective Outer Orbit from Portland.
R&B Festival favorites Too Slim & the Taildraggers and harmonica virtuoso Charlie Musselwhite rock the stage on Sunday night.
The Methow Juke Joint All-Stars — a collaboration of long-time R&B festival favorites and their bands — pound out danceable music in the beer garden both Saturday and Sunday night.
The Winthrop R&B festival has garnered its share of awards. It was honored in 2015 with the well-deserved Keeping the Blues Alive award for best U.S. festival by the Memphis-based Blues Foundation. The award recognizes Winthrop’s annual bash for its long-time commitment to presenting the best of the blues — and to its community. The Washington Blues Society hailed Winthrop’s R&B festival as the best regional blues festival in 2020.
Although COVID kept the live festival at bay the past two years, the organizers kept the beat going with live-streamed virtual performances of old friends and new acts. You can get a tantalizing preview or go back and listen to favorites after the festival on their website at https://winthropbluesfestival.com.
If you go:
The festival is Friday through Sunday (July 15 to 17) at the Blues Ranch just west of Winthrop. The Friday-night beer garden starts at 7 p.m. Saturday’s line-up on the main stage starts at 11 a.m. and runs through 10 p.m., with the All-Stars in the beer garden starting at 11:30 p.m. Sunday morning gets going with gospel at 11 a.m.; the beer garden starts at 9 p.m.
Tickets are going fast. The weekend festival pass is sold out. People can buy single-day tickets online at https://winthropbluesfestival.com. Friday-night Beer Garden tickets are $30 and there were 149 tickets left as of press time. Saturday tickets are $90 and there were 17 left. Sunday tickets are $60 and there were 58 tickets remaining.
Camping for the weekend (three nights) is $75. Thursday-night camping is available for an additional $30. Sites are first-come, first-served. Sites for RVs and big rigs over 25 feet are sold out. There were 10 camping spaces available as of press time.
Parking can be purchased online or at the gate. A weekend parking pass is $15. Friday parking is included with a weekend festival pass or Friday-night admission. Parking for Saturday or Sunday is $10.
Proceeds from Friday night’s beer garden support The Cove food bank and other local non-profits.
The festival follows current COVID safety protocols.