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Dancing in the mud: Blues fans unhampered by soggy Slater field

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

(Photo)
Billowing clouds are reflected in a large puddle on the baseball diamond Saturday, June 28, as the Bear Creek Blues Festival gets under way. The football field, where most of the music fans congregated, was just as wet and got progressively muddier as the evening wore on. Music fans at the festival did not seem daunted in the least by the soggy field.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
"The blues is my business, and business is good."

So sang Lew Jetton of Lew Jetton & 61 South during the band's first song at the 2008 Bear Creek Blues Festival in Slater Saturday, June 28.

The assertion seemed appropriate to the event. The festival had a Woodstock-ish feel this year.

(Photo)
Alexis Arvizu, 15, of Napton, shows off her prize, a Peavey Jazz Fusion guitar she won in the raffle. The guitar not only was signed by each performer in the festival, it was played on stage by blues guitarist Mike Zito.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
It had food, music, fun -- and mud.

The historic 1969 rock music festival is famous in part for the muddy conditions following thunderstorms -- and for the fact that neither rain nor mud put a damper on the spirits of the artists or the audience.

Likewise, the football field in Slater was very soggy Saturday, June 28, after thunderstorms late in the week soaked the area. And after several hours of foot traffic by several hundred concert goers visiting food vendors and other booths, the field was getting fairly muddy, too.

(Photo)
Lew Jetton gives blues fans a little personal attention during the Bear Creek Blues Festival in Slater Saturday, June 28. Jetton visited fans several times during his set, twice doing a backward somersault to get back on stage.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
But no one seemed to mind much. The fifth annual blues festival went off without a hitch in spite of the wet conditions.

Members of the audience got up and danced in front of the stage and Jetton made a couple of trips out into the audience to give fans an up-close look at his guitar work.

By the end of the evening, as headliner Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials cranked up their energetic sound, a good portion of the audience was on its feet.

(Photo)
Mike Zito gives the raffle guitar a workout during his set. Prior to the headline act, Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials, the silver Peavey Jazz Fusion was given away to raffle winner Alexis Arvizu of Napton. The guitar was signed by all the performers at the festival.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
The rain did cause concert organizers to make a number of last-minute rearrangements, according to Jill and Scott Murray.

A stage was hastily built at the southeast corner of the field. The lumber arrived Thursday afternoon and volunteers finished it Friday afternoon, Scott Murray said, "about 30 minutes before the sound guy showed up."

"You do what you've got to do," he said. "We didn't want to tear up the field."

Normally, the stage consists of three flatbed semi trailers parked on the west side of the field.

Following the performance of Mike Zito and before the final act of the evening, emcee Dan Day, Scott Murray and Lil' Ed drew the winning raffle ticket for the Peavey Jazz Fusion guitar, won by 15-year-old Alexis Arvizu of Napton.

"It's my first guitar and I'm really excited," she said after climbing off the stage with the silver guitar clutched in her hands. "I've always wanted to learn it."

Arvizu said she likes classic rock, alternative metal and "definitely the blues."

The guitar was signed by all the performers at the festival and was played on stage by Zito.

Contact Eric Crump at marshalleditor@socket.net



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