Revive the Ann Arbor Blues Festival

In 1969, the Blues held a party and everyone came. This Summer, we want to do it again.

Recently, a small group of blues enthusiasts got together to revive the famous Ann Arbor Blues Festival. We've made big plans, built a great team, and have made a lot of progress. But we need your help to get across the finish line and create a festival worthy of its name.

What's the Ann Arbor Blues Festival?

The world's first electric blues festival was held in Ann Arbor, Michigan in August 1969. That's when a small group of University of Michigan students gathered what may have been the greatest lineup of blues musicians who ever lived for a 3-day celebration of Chicago-style blues. B.B. King. Muddy Waters. Howlin' Wolf. Freddie King. John Lee Hooker. Luther Allison. Big Mama Thornton. Charlie Musselwhite. Buddy Guy. T-Bone Walker. The list goes on and on.

The lineup in 1970 was equally star-studded, cementing its reputation as the premier blues festival in the country. By 1972, the festival had been rechristened as the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival, adding Count Basie and Miles Davis to its growing roster of music industry legends attracted to this midwestern mecca of jazz and blues. Atlantic Records released a 2-record live album of the 1972 Blues and Jazz Festival, featuring performances by Koko Taylor, Freddie King, Sun Ra, Dr. John, Bonnie Raitt, and Otis Rush, among others.

Like all good things, however, the shine eventually faded, and the last Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival was held in 2006.

Why now?

In anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the first Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 2019, we've begun the process of recreating and reenergizing the spirit of those first blues festivals. Along the way, we'll invite a new generation of up-and-coming blues musicians to share the stage with the world's legends, some of whom were present at the iconic festivals of the 1960s and 1970s.

We've started making the plans needed to make the first revived festival a success. Our first festival will be small - a single day event. But we anticipate that 2018 will be larger and that 2019's Festival will be a celebration worthy of the Ann Arbor Blues Festival pedigree.

We've selected a date: Saturday, August 19, 2017

We've selected a place: The Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds

We've even started selecting a small number of terrific blues bands to perform.

Why Do You Need My Help?

So what's missing? In short, cash.

Putting on a festival is expensive. Whether it's renting the venue, hiring the sound engineers, advertising and promotion, and, of course, paying the talented musicians who will be performing, everything costs money.

While one would expect that ticket sales will be enough to pay for all of these things, the reality is that tickets often cover only a portion of expenses needed to put on a festival like this - especially if we want to make it affordable for ordinary people like us. And, revenue for ticket sales typically doesn't come in until after the show is over - but advertisers and suppliers and vendors want their money up front.

And that's where you come in. Your contributions can help us meet those important expenses. The more support we receive, especially early on, the better we can make the festival: Better sound. Bigger stage. More bands. Bigger acts.

Our Pledge to You

We will work diligently to make this the best blues festival we possibly can. We will keep you informed and provide regular updates on our progress. We will do our damnedest to restore the Ann Arbor Blues Festival to its rightful place in the pantheon of Blues history.

Thank you.

James Partridge
The Ann Arbor Blues Society

Chris Canas and Angela Kilgo-Cottingham
The Chris Canas Band

Donations (0)

  • Richard Cooper 
    • $100 
    • 17 mos
  • Sharon Race 
    • $100 
    • 19 mos
  • Stella Wixom 
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  • GROM par 
    • $50 
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James Partridge 
Ann Arbor, MI
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