Arts and Culture / Magazine Feature

Blues & Brews fest to make Pearl Street hum

The 1200 block of South Pearl Street is typically a quiet place — craft studios and residences sandwiched between Lincoln’s Roadhouse and the Duffyroll Café. All that changes July 11.

At the stroke of noon — rain or shine — nine well-seasoned national and local blues bands will take over the street, putting their guitars on stun and firing blues songs until 10 p.m. No wide-eyed bluesy wannabes here: This is a parade of talented blues rockers playing everything from soulful harmonica ballads to guitar licks nasty enough to grab you by the throat and shake you black and blue.

Welcome to the third annual Blues and Brews festival, which is sponsored by the Old South Pearl Street Association and is just one light-rail stop away from the DU campus.

This year’s headliner is John Lee Hooker Jr., whose legendary father growled his way into the Blues Hall of Fame and whose own talents have been solid enough to earn him a 2008 Grammy nomination for All Odds Against Me.

Hooker caps the evening, but he’s far from the only performer who can light up the night. Like Henry Butler, a New Orleans piano player who has had eight Grammy nominations.

“They say that Henry Butler taught Dr. John how to play the piano,” says association president Mark Gill. “I don’t know if that’s true. But he’s great. Then there’s Eddie Turner. He’s an incredible guitarist, and the Informants were voted the best bar band.”

The rest of the lineup includes Bluez House, the Lionel Young Band, the Delta Sonics Band, Lazy Lester and Joe Price. If not every name rings a bell, go to and click on Blues and Brews. The lineup section contains links to the performers’ Web sites, where in most cases you can hear samples of the music on tap Saturday.

“It’s a good-natured, well-behaved crowd,” Gill says. “And we sell a lot of beer.” In fact, nearly a dozen craft beer companies in addition to Coors have been lined up to sell suds. He laughs when he recalls the festival’s birth two years ago, when organizers expected 500 people and got 7,000. Last year there were about 10,000 patrons and admission was “a buck.” This year it’s $5.

“We’ve upgraded the music,” Gill explained.

Because parking is limited, Gill recommends arriving by light rail. The stage will be set up at the intersection of Buchtel Boulevard and South Pearl Street, only a few block walk from the Louisiana-Pearl Street light-rail station. Chairs and blankets are welcome, as are all ages, just not outside food or beverages.

For information, go to the web site or call 303-734-0718.

For more information about the artists and to hear their music, visit the following Web sites:

John Lee Hooker Jr.

Henry Butler

The Lionel Young Band

The Delta Sonics

Lazy Lester

Joe Price

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