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Pikes Peak Blues Summit at Hillside Gardens


Smokin Joe and the Mighty Burners are among the bands playing on Sunday at Hillside Gardens.
  • Smokin Joe and the Mighty Burners are among the bands playing on Sunday at Hillside Gardens.

When the legendary Muddy Waters sang, "The blues had a baby and they called it rock 'n' roll," he was certainly on to something. Noting that almost every genre from bluegrass to soul has recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity due to "roots appeal," Walter Chase, a co-organizer of the Pikes Peak Blues Summit, felt the role of blues as a progenitor of pop and rock music similarly deserved to be recognized.

On Sunday, Sept. 21, Mojo Johnson Productions will present over a dozen of the region's finest blues bands and solo artists in a "free, outdoor celebration of the blues tradition," to be held in the amphitheater on the gorgeous grounds of the Hillside Gardens and Nursery.

Following the failure of last year's Pikes Peak Blues Festival, Chase, a longtime Springs blues player and supporter, decided to get involved.

"We wanted to put politics aside and just do something positive for the blues scene," he said.

With the help of co-organizer, Joe Sciallo, from local blues outfit, Smokin' Joe and the Mighty Burners, Chase contacted a number of the region's most notable blues hounds with the intention of presenting a local concert to validate the genre's resilience.

"There are plenty of blues players in this town who really believe in the music," said Chase. "This is our chance to prove that blues is not dead."

Chase was surprised by the response he received.

"Almost all the artists I spoke with were very encouraged by what we were trying to do. It was an important vote of confidence," he said.

Having moved to the Springs in 1978, Chase has seen the local blues scene develop over time, and he has seen it stagnate.

"I think of myself as a caretaker; blues was here before me, and it will be here when I'm gone," he said. "There have been rough times, but this event is chance for us all to come together."

Though the event is free and open to the public, donations will be accepted with all proceeds being used to pay the bands.

The all-day event will feature continuous live music from bands and acoustic performers. Stylistically, there promises to be a little something for everybody.

"Primarily, these groups want to pass on the traditional, authentic blues sound -- but there are so many authentic blues sounds that people will really get an earful," says Chase. "We've got groups that are influenced by everything from T-Bone Walker to Sly and the Family Stone. Blues is as varied and distinct as any genre out there."

The artists scheduled to perform are Mike Nelson and the Motel Kings, the Bijou Street Blues Band, Smokin' Joe and the Mighty Burners, the Benders Blues Band, Magic Dave and the New Mules, Lobo Loggins and the Blues Train, Blue Suburban, the Mamma Jamma Blues Band, Little Robbie, Anne Kennedy, Kristen Sherwood, Tim Costello, Homeboy Williams and John-Alex Mason.

-- Joe Kuzma

capsule The Pikes Peak Blues Summit

Hillside Gardens and Nursery

1006 S. Institute St. (one block south of the intersection of Fountain and Institute)

Sunday, Sept. 21, 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Free (donations encouraged)

All ages

Go to pikespeakblues.html for more.

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