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Common man’s fanfare

Profile image for By Harrison Long
By Harrison Long

Festival celebrates blues’ long popular tradition

Nearly 10,000 people are expected to attend the 18th annual Denton Blues Festival this weekend at Quakertown Park, said longtime festival organizer John Baines.

The free festival is presented by the Denton Black Chamber of Commerce.

“We have a high level of talent from all over,” Baines said. “We are trying to keep alive a form of music that is, for all intents and purposes, dying off.”

Baines has been involved with the event since its inception in the 1990s, and he recounts the changes it has undergone in that time. A former R&B singer, Baines believes the Denton Blues Fest’s appeal comes largely from its openness and homey feel. Fans can spread out near the stage.

“It isn’t overbearing, as there aren’t wall-to-wall people,” he said.

Although it originally began as a festival that featured jazz and blues, Baines said the event evolved. Organizers worried that it was too much like the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival — the city’s biggest festival, staged each spring. The event briefly took form as a gospel festival, but in 1999 switched to the Denton Blues Festival, which it remains today.

When asked about the difference between jazz and the blues — used interchangeably by many new listeners — Baines said “jazz is for the sophisticated individual, while the blues is for the common man.”

The festival does have a new element this year. Attendees can kick off the weekend with karaoke from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. Baines said the singers should sign up at the stage, which will be set up in front of City Hall near the post office at 101 E. McKinney St.

“The karaoke is all music, including the blues,” Baines said.

Each singer can perform one song, though the hosts might allow multiple performances if there is time, Baines said.

Like most Denton festivals, this weekend’s main stage will make room for community groups as well as professional musicians. Vendors will have booths with food set up for most of the day.

DENTON BLUES FESTIVAL

What: Denton Black Chamber of Commerce’s free festival celebrating the blues

When: Saturday and Sunday, with karaoke from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday

Where: Quakertown Park, 321 E. McKinney St.

SATURDAY

Main Stage

1 to 2 p.m. — Denton Music Academy

2:30 to 3:30 p.m. — Benois King

4 to 5 p.m. — Neal Drennan Band

5:30 to 6:30 p.m. — Buddy Whittington

7 to 8:15 p.m. — Toronzo Cannon

8:45 to 10 p.m. — Selwyn Birchwood

Community Stage

1 to 1:45 p.m. — Janya White and Natalie Gonzales

2 to 4 p.m. — Denton Got Talent

4:30 to 5:30 p.m. — Mojo Frankenstein

6 to 7 p.m. — On the Spectrum

eg A. Smith

5:30 to 6:30 p.m

SUNDAY

Main Stage

1 to 2 p.m. — Fort Worth School of Rock

2:30 to 3:30 p.m. — Tim Hood Band

4 to 5 p.m. — Gr. — Mike Babb Blues Band with Paul Byrd

7 to 8:30 p.m. — Zac Harmon

Community Stage

1 to 1:45 p.m. — To be announced

2 to 2:30 p.m. — To be announced

3 to 4 p.m. — Little Elmo & the Mambo Kings

4:30 to 5:30 p.m. — The Way Down

6 to 7 p.m. — Bone Doggie