Blues fans are in for a special treat when the Cape Fear Blues Society welcomes blues harmonica master and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominee Lee Oskar to Wilmington during the 19th Annual Cape Fear Blues Festival. There’s no one in the music world quite like Lee Oskar. He is a founding member and former lead harmonica player for the 1970s funk/jazz band, WAR. His signature harp solos helped define the WAR sound (think “Cisco Kid” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends”). In 1976 he earned Billboard’s title of #1 Instrumental Artist of the Year. In 1983 he created a successful line of Lee Oskar Harmonicas. In recent years Oskar has performed and recorded solo. By his own admission his harp playing has become more aggressive, evolving into a lead instrument. As this year’s Special Guest at the Cape Fear Blues Festival, Lee Oskar will perform at several events, along with touring blues artists, noted regional performers, and talented local blues musicians performing in a variety of genres. Wilmington’s premier music venues—the Rusty Nail Saloon, Ted’s Fun On The River, and The Art Factory—will host the 2014 Cape Fear Blues Festival. The three-day blues celebration features live concerts, workshop, jam sessions, and the popular Blues Cruise.FRIDAY, July 25: The blues excitement begins with the ever-popular CAPE FEAR BLUES CRUISE (boards at 6:30pm; departs at 7:30pm) featuring 3 bands, 3 decks and 3 cash bars, with heavy appetizers and a blues-filled sunset. Blues harmonica master Lee Oskar will preside as Guest of Honor aboard this year’s cruise. Festival favorites The Rickey Godfrey Band will bring their “hot rockin’ blues and hip-shakin’ soul” to the main deck. Above the main deck, Randy McQuay & RootSoul Project will delight with soulful fusions of musical genres. Blues guitarist Harvey Dalton Arnold will entertain with acoustic selections on the atrium level. Advance tickets are $55 each and can be purchased online now at www.capefearblues.org/cruise.html, or call 910-343-1611 or 910-452-7752 for more information. Afterward, the CRUISE AFTER-PARTY grooves on until the wee hours at The Rusty Nail Saloon (1310 South 5th Street, 910-251-1888) beginning at 9pm with Greensboro blues trio “Lawyers, Guns & Money,” who will headline the blues after-party (cover charge may apply).
SATURDAY, July 26: A free LEE OSKAR HARMONICA WORKSHOP for all ages will take place at the Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center (2nd & Orange streets) starting at 11:00am. This year’s featured artist is Lee Oskar who will demonstrate techniques, method and improvisation on his signature harmonica. Admission is free but donations are accepted. Call 910-452-7752 for workshop info. At 1:00pm, local and regional players provide an ACOUSTIC BLUES SHOWCASE at Ted’s Fun on the River (2 Castle Street), featuring finger-picker Spidermike Bochey and friends (details: 910-231-3379). At 4:00pm musicians and listeners can break for refreshments (cash bar) and blues on the jukebox at The Rusty Nail. Beginning at 7:30pm, doors open at The Art Factory (under the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge at 721 Surrey Street, Wilmington) which will play host to the SATURDAY NIGHT BLUES CONCERT, featuring blues harpist Lee Oskar & Friends. Tickets are $15 in advance (online at www.capefearblues.org) or at the door the night of the show ($20 each). For concert details: 910-399-3793 or 910-350-8822. Afterward at The Rusty Nail Saloon, Snake Malone & The Black Cat Bonewill serve up late-night blues until 1:00am.
SUNDAY, July 27: The free ALL-DAY BLUES JAM begins at 12:00 noon under the tent at The Rusty Nail (1310 S. 5th Street) hosted by the Cape Fear Blues Society. Bring a lawn chair. No coolers; no pets allowed. Beverages and food will be available for sale all day. Musicians can reserve a performance slot by calling 910-350-8822 and leave a name and phone number. At 6:00pm, the Guitar Giveaway will feature a Big Baby Taylor acoustic guitar. Raffle tickets cost $1 (each) with proceeds supporting projects and programs of the Cape Fear Blues Society. Raffle tickets available at The Rusty Nail or at any Festival event.
Wilmington, North Carolina and its island beaches is a popular vacation destination that’s known for its dynamic blues scene, with weekly jams, live performances, and two signature blues festivals that provide a steady dose of blues music. For Cape Fear Blues Festival details and tickets, visit www.capefearblues.org or call 910-350-8822. For a free Official Visitors Guide for Wilmington, North Carolina and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach, visit www.GoWilmingtonAndBeaches.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1-866-266-9690.