Blues Party brings Landreth, Nemeth, more to Eureka Springs

Blues Party brings Landreth, Nemeth, more to Eureka Springs

While Memphis, Tenn., and Clarksdale, Miss., are ground zero for any blues musician worth their salt, Eureka Springs will be a temporary retreat during the annual Eureka Springs Blues Party. It happens May 30 through June 2 in venues all throughout downtown.

“The Eureka Springs Blues Festival began in the 1990s and has always been a highlight in downtown Eureka Springs,” says Gina Rambo, director of marketing and communications for the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa and Basin Park Hotel.

Rambo says they keep the city’s connection to the blues alive by featuring beloved giants such as the reigning King of Slydeco, Sonny Landreth, alongside headliners like bluesy singer/songwriter Cris Jacobs and the return of favorites like singer and blues harpist John Németh and Austin-based guitarist Ian Moore. The weekend offers a chance to see local and regional gems such as Buddy Shute and the Motivators, Earl and Them, Patrick Sweany, Rachel Ammons and Red Oak Ruse.

The party has 50 shows taking place all over Eureka Springs, including the Center Street Block Party and beer tasting on June 1.

“If it’s anything like previous years, expect high-energy music and a lively atmosphere all around Eureka Springs,” Rambo says. She suggests newcomers buy their tickets in advance to ensure a smooth arrival and adds they should wear their walking shoes.

“Plan to explore the entire destination, including local shops, restaurants and blues clubs,” she says. “If you stay downtown, you’ll be within walking distance of many events.”

Blues singer, and loyal Memphian, John Nemeth says he can’t wait to get back to his second time at the festival.

“I’ve had such a great time every time I’ve ever performed in Eureka Springs. It’s a cool town with lots of good restaurants, and people that live there really love to party and dance and have a good time,” he says. “It’s always been a ball.”

He remembers Chelsea’s when he was touring out of San Francisco in the early 2000s — even after touring thousands of clubs.

“It’s an unusual venue, and I really loved it. And the fact that the owner’s buried under the stage makes it even more exciting!”

Rambo confirms that there is someone buried under the stage, but it’s not the original owner.

“The original owner was Arlene Pabian, and she went by Molly McGuire. Her father, Sam, was a horn player, and they did bury his ashes where the stage is now,” confirms Rambo.

This will be Nemeth’s second time performing at the Blues Party. To date, he has released 11 albums since he struck out from the Boise music scene in 2002. He’s performed with Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets, and Funderburgh even produced Nemeth’s third album, “Magic Touch,” which features Junior Watson on guitar.

When Nemeth first started singing, he says was drawn to the smooth vocals of singers like Nat King Cole, but it was singers like fellow blues harpist JR Wells and the gravely vocals of Louis Armstrong that eventually interested him. He also loved Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley and B.B. King.

“I think the South had the biggest influence on me as a musician,” he says, “specifically working with musicians that are from Memphis that played on countless hit records. When I worked with these musicians, they brought out things in me that I had heard on records, that had gone into my subconscious, but I didn’t know how to access them. They were the key to unlocking those influences.”

In 2013, Nemeth moved to Memphis to record his album “Memphis Grease” — a collection of revisited soul classics that won him the 2014 BMA for Best Soul Blues Male Artist and then the Best Soul Blues Album award in 2015.

He’s stayed in Memphis ever since and admits that many of his favorites hail from the city on the Mississippi.

“I’ve had a velvet Elvis on my wall for like 24 years, and I’ve had a B.B. King black and white photo framed on my wall for about that same time, too,” he says.

He says he continues to be shaped by local talent.

“I think some folks that are really influencing me right now [since] I moved to Memphis are singers like Don Bryant and William Bell, Spencer Wiggins and his brother Percy Wiggins,” he says. “I like the real good ones for sure!”

He says he hopes to hit some of the shops too while he’s in Eureka with his band, The Blue Dreamers.

After the show, he hopes listeners will come over to the merch table and say hi. Keep up with his journey on socials or on his website. Nemeth says he’s easy to find.

“I’m the most famous person with my name,” he jokes.



Eureka Springs Blues Party

WHEN — May 30-June 2

WHERE — Various venues in downtown Eureka Springs

COST — All access passes, $275


BONUS — Updates will be on the Eureka Springs Blues Party event page on Facebook or on the Stages Live app and at the Blues Tent at The Auditorium.



John Nemeth & The Blue Dreamers

WHEN — Chad Marshall Band opens at 8:30 p.m. June 1

WHERE — Barefoot Ballroom at the Basin Park Hotel in Eureka Springs

COST — $25


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