Blues in the Natural State

ffw 1203 michael burksThe Ozark Blues Society wants you to grab your dancing shoes and come out for the eighth annual Blues in the Natural State Festival this Saturday at George’s Majestic Lounge on Dickson Street.

The festival highlights Arkansas blues musicians who have achieved national recognition as well as emerging young artists.

Headlining this year’s event is Michael Burks, who spent some of his younger years in Camden. Burks has become an iconic blues performer. Even though the award winning musician has been playing since he was a child, it was the release of “Make It Rain,” his Alligator Records debut in 2001, that brought Burks welldeserved national recognition and made him one of the blues world’s fastest-rising stars. He has played many festivals including the Chicago Blues Festival, Telluride Blues Festival, Mississippi Valley Blues Fest and Kalamazoo Blues Fest.

Also on the bill is R.J. Mischo and His Red Hot Blues Band. Mischo is an award winning singer, harmonica player and bandleader. He has recorded nine CDs and can also be heard as a guest or on compilations with Jimmie Vaughan, James Cotton, G. Love, James Harman, Kim Wilson, Candye Kane, John Mayall and others. He has played in bands with Grammy winner Pinetop Perkins and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and at many festivals including the San Francisco Blues Festival, Monterrey Jazz & Blues Festivals and Lucerne Blues Fest in Switzerland. His all-star lineup for BNSF is: guitarist Paul Bryant (Big Joe Turner, PeeWee Crayton, Canned Heat, William Clarke Band), bassist John Seaburg (Judge Parker, Steve Gaines, Charlie Musselwhite, Big Mama Thornton) and drummer Ronnie Mac (James Harman, Junior Markham, the King Ernest Band).

Former Fayetteville vocalist Cherry Brooks, who now calls Memphis home, will bring musicians from Memphis for a set that will bring back fond memories for local music fans. Heading up the band will be Cal Jackson, who with Brooks played in Fayetteville bands Pulse 192, Shabby Chic and the Subtonics.

ffw 1203 rj mischo. jpgThis year’s Ozark Blues Society’s Blues Challenge winners Isayah Warford’s blues trio and Buddy Shute will also perform.

The young artist showcase will feature 14-year-old Nathan Aronowitz and 16-year-old Marquise Knox, a protégé of David “Honeyboy” Edwards.

The festival opens at 6 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 advance at www. or $12 at the door.

Categories: Features