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3rd Annual Flathead Lake Blues Festival to bring the Blues

POLSON — Back for the third year, the Flathead Lake Blues Festival is set for August 16-17. The event features 10 blues bands from around the Northwest and across the country. The music starts on Friday evening with four bands. The festival starts again early Saturday afternoon and winds up with an All-Star Jam

The weekend promises to be a rocking event. The bands will feature a wide range of blues styles including Delta Blues, Blues-Funk fusion, traditional blues, Bluedeco, and more. The band lineup includes Flathead area favorites such as the Kenny James Miller Band, Craig Barton, Andre Floyd & Mood Iguana. “Brother Music” out of Sandpoint brings more traditional styles, including Robert Johnson style acoustic blues. Missoula’s Three Eared Dog is a young group bringing fresh energy to traditional blues. Kevin Van Dort is rumored to be making a special guest appearance with Three Eared Dog.

The Seattle-based “Rafael Tranquilino Band” features Tranquilino, who is truly one of the “hottest” young guitar slingers in the Pacific Northwest. The “Bad Betty Organ Combo” out of Bozeman brings a blend of groove, blues, and jazz. “David Shelley and Bluestone” from Florida is an eclectic fusion of blues, rock and world rhythms. Hard-driving grooves with soulful blues guitar and vocals are the heart of their sound. The Flathead’s own Red Hot Blue Chips six-piece band includes members of the Montana Legends Big Daddy and the Blue Notes rounded out with additional percussion, accordion and vocals from other outstanding Flathead area musicians. This band will bring a blend of cajun blues, zydeco and traditional blues, or “bluedeco.” Saturday evening will wrap up with an All Star Jam featuring all comers from the weekend’s performances.

The Flathead Lake Blues Festival began in 2010 as an evening of music meant to showcase Salish Point on Polson Bay as a music and event venue and to bring great music lovers to Polson. The event is organized by Festivals on the Flathead, a non-profit organization whose long-term goals include terracing the hillside on Salish Point to make the park an even better venue for events such as concerts, plays, graduation ceremonies and other events. This site is the “crown jewel of Flathead Lake” said Keryl Lozar, past president and a founding member of the group. This year 5 percent of ticket sales go directly into the Salish Point renovation fund.

After evaluating their first two years of holding the festival, the group shifted to a two-day event because “two-days of music and more bands has worked well for other small-town festivals.” said David Venters, a group founder and treasurer. With camping available this year, “we hope to draw those who want to make a weekend of it,” he said.

This fall the group will also be working with local high schools to give musical instruments to a few deserving high-school music students. “We’re looking forward to giving some instruments to talented and young people to encourage their pursuit of music,” said Chris Ricciardi, board president. “We plan to continue this activity each year,” with proceeds from a raffle this year becoming seed money for the following year.

The Flathead Lake Blues Festival depends on the help of sponsors to defray the costs of putting on the festival, rather than relying solely on ticket sales. “Sponsors help keep the ticket cost down,” said Lozar. “The community is really getting behind us,” said Venters. “Every donation, large or small, helps,” he said. Several sponsors from across Northwest Montana have stepped up with the larger sponsorships to directly defray the cost of the bands, lighting, and sound.

The group is still seeking both sponsors and volunteers. “It takes a village to pull off an event of this size” said Venters. If you’re interested in helping with the Festival in any way, contact Venters at 406-885-2377. Tickets for the festival can be purchased at the gate, online, or at various businesses in Polson, Kalispell. Ticket Prices are Advance: $15 for Friday and $20 for Saturday; Gate: $20 for Friday and $25 for Saturday

For more information, ticket locations, or online ticket sales see

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