The Blues are back. And not a moment too soon!
What better way to counter America's stagnant economy and declining debt rate than by spending a memorable get-away-from-it-all weekend at Wheeling's Heritage Port.
It won't take a bank loan or ATM raid to attend the 11th annual Bluesfest, opening Friday afternoon and continuing through Sunday evening.
The 2011 festival features a world-class lineup of artists and bands, culminating Sunday with one of the most in-demand headliners in Bluesfest history.
Legendary Chicago-based Buddy Guy, named by Rolling Stone magazine one of the top 30 guitarists of all time, makes his Bluesfest debut as Sunday night's closer.
Two weeks removed from celebrating his 75th birthday, Guy was a 2005 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Born in Louisiana in 1936 before relocating to the Windy City in 1957, Guy has received virtually every industry award imaginable during a spectacular career.
The city of Chicago recently renamed a stretch of Wabash Street, in front of his 'Legends' club, "Buddy Guy Way."
The iconic Guy has performed on thousands of stages world-wide. He'll be traveling to Wheeling following Friday night gig in Oregon.
Before Guy electrifies Sunday's festival crowd, 12-year-old guitar whiz Quinn Sullivan, will be on stage. The young prodigy has been touring with Guy this summer.
In addition to Guy, Bluesfest 2011 features another stellar lineup of award-winning talent.
Local fans will again be privy to Friday morning's annual free "Taste of the Blues Preview," with one of the valley's most respected musicians, Adrian Niles, performing starting at 11:30 a.m.
Bluesfest officially begins at 5 p.m. when festival founder and organizer Bruce Wheeler presents 'Festival Faves,' a collection of up-and-coming bands and artists.
Friday's main stage has Candye Kane making her Bluesfest debut at 6:30. A cancer survivor, Kane's musical tastes are all over the map. She's best known, however, for her sizzling live performances.
Bluesfest alumnus Paul Oscher is the 8 p.m. headliner before Friday's opening day lineup concludes with 'Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin's Vizztone All-Star Revue.
Margolin is a Wheeling favorite and should delight long-time fans with an accompanying collection of exceptional artists, including Gaye Adegbalola and Matt Hill.
Saturday's near 12-hour card brings back another Bluesfest veteran, 67-year-old Charlie Musselwhite whose closing set (9:45 p.m.) figures to be a weekend highlight.
At 12 noon, Georg Schroeter and Marc Breitfelder kick off the proceedings. White-hot Deb Callahan heats up the afternoon at 1:15.
The Nighthawks, who performed at Wheeling's initial Bluesfest in 2001, will be playing songs from their latest award-winning record with a 2:35 set.
Kansas movers and shakers Moreland & Arbuckle made a major statement during their Bluesfest debut two summers ago. They'll kick out the jams starting at 3:55.
Wheeler refers to Zac Harmon as the "gentle giant of the blues." And why not? Harmon stands 6 ft. 6 and has a dynamic R&B-influenced vocal style. He'll be performing songs from his highly-touted CD, "The Blues According to Zacariah."
Another guitar wizard from across the pond, Matt Schofeld, turns on the Bluesfest crowd at 6:45 before Bayou-based Jon Cleary's Philthy Phew get their groove on at 8:15. Musselwhite's 9:45 gig caps the day.
Pittsburgh's Wayne & Wildroot open Sunday's festivities at 1:00 before the Alligator Records' duo of Smokin' Joe Kubek and Bnois King perform at 2:30.
Bluesfest fans are in for a royal treat when vocalist Teeny Tucker injects Heritage Port with a lethal dose of frenetic energy. Tucker's much-anticipated set is scheduled for 4:00.
Damon Fowler, J.P. Soars and Victor Wainwright make up the trio known as Southern Hospitality who take the stage at 5:30.
Before Guy makes his first-ever Wheeling appearance, Louisiana 'Swampmaster' Kenny Neal performs songs from the latest record, "Let Life Flow." Neal goes on at 7:00.
As usual, Bluesfest features the always-popular 'Second Stage' featuring some of the finest under the radar talent from the tri-state area.
An artist market is on site along with several area food vendors.
Single day and weekend packages are available. Additional info may be obtained at www.heritagemusicfest.com
Gibson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org