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Blues Festival gets Dentonites up and moving

Blues Festival gets Dentonites up and moving

Bass guitarist and vocalist for the Pops Carter Tribute Band, Clarence Pitts sings during the Denton Blues Festival on September 20th. Dylan Nadwodny | Intern Photographer

Blues Festival gets Dentonites up and moving
September 24
03:20 2015

Kayleigh Bywater | Senior Staff Writer

@kayleighnic0le

The skies were ominous and gloomy Saturday morning, hinting at the distinct possibility of a downpour and many disappointed, rained-out Denton blues fans.

As it came closer to time for the 17th annual Denton Blues Festival to start, an unexpectedly large crowd could be seen filing into Quakertown Park. Walking through mud and holding umbrellas, fans waited anxiously for the performances to begin.

“The festival is meant to showcase the blues talent that is available to us throughout Texas and our community,” Denton Black Chamber of Commerce board member Mark Courts said. “Denton puts on a lot of different festivals throughout the year, but no other ones focus solely on blues.”

Every year the DBCC puts on the free, two-day festival to share the blues genre with the Denton community. Sights and sounds at the Blues Festival this year included various artists on two stages throughout the weekend, different vendors selling a variety of trinkets and homemade items and people dancing to the beats of blues and jazz music.

Houston native and award winning singer Annika Chambers performs at the Denton Blues Festival on September 20th. Dylan Nadwodny | Intern Photographer

Houston native and award winning singer Annika Chambers performs at the Denton Blues Festival on Sept. 20. Dylan Nadwodny | Intern Photographer

DBCC treasurer John Baines said the annual festival is not just a way to showcase popular musicians.

“We want to represent both up and coming artists as well as those who may be a little more experienced,” Baines said. “The blues are for everyone, and it is fascinating to see those who have not had as much experience in the genre learn from those who have grown up with it.”

Although the Blues Festival is not usually until fall, planning for the festival starts as early as April. Courts said in order to book all the different acts for the festival, a committee from the Chamber meets around the end of April to suggest and discuss different bands and musicians to perform.

Many of the performers at the festival have been with them over the years, and they also find new artists through their website and outside interactions.

One of the artists asked to perform on the main stage this year was blues singer Annika Chambers, who played Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Chambers said although this was her first visit to Denton, she was excited to perform at the Blues Festival and share her experience with so many who enjoyed the same type of music she did.

Guest guitarist for Second Hand Smoke, "Lil J" plays his guitar during a solo at the end of the band's set at the Denton Blues Festival on September 20th. Dylan Nadwodny | Intern Photographer

Guest guitarist for Second Hand Smoke, “Lil J” plays his guitar during a solo at the end of the band’s set at the Denton Blues Festival on Sept. 20. Dylan Nadwodny | Intern Photographer

“When I perform, I want to minister to people in a way that I tell a story in every song,” Chambers said. “I feel like it is an honor to be here and do what I love.”

Chambers began singing when she was young, both on her own and in church, but it wasn’t until she joined the army that she got in to blues. Chambers said she is glad she was introduced to blues and jazz because of the unique style.

“To me, blues is the most heartfelt and purest genre of music around,” Chambers said. “It is real and raw, and if you mess up when you’re singing, it’s alright, because no one is perfect. It is an all-around, authentic form of expression.”

Vocal jazz senior Morgan Wallace performed at the Blues Festival on Sunday at 6 p.m. Although she is younger and has not had as much experience as others who performed at the festival, she still had the chance to perform on the community stage.

Wallace said she heard about the Blues Festival last year and thought it would be fun to attend and try to perform.

“Blues is one of the biggest musical influences of the U.S. history and culture as a whole,” Wallace said. “It is one of the most uniquely American genres that speaks to so many in a deep way.”

The huge turnout for the festival, despite the rain, kept Baines optimistic for growth in the years to come.

“Some people think that the blues have come and gone, but that is not it at all,” Baines said. “I look forward to seeing more people stepping forward and taking an interest, not only so we can get more people to come to the festival, but so that people can really appreciate all that it has to offer.”

Featured Image: Bass guitarist and vocalist for the Pops Carter Tribute Band, Clarence Pitts sings during the Denton Blues Festival on Sept. 20. Dylan Nadwodny | Intern Photographer

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