AURORA – The 30th edition of Kentucky’s longest running music festival, the Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival will feature some past favorites, along with some national stars.
The festival begins Thursday, Aug. 22, with the traditional free show on the lawn of the Kenlake State Park Lodge. Last year’s Blues Jam was so popular, they’re going to do it again with local favorites Adam and the H Bombs and 2 Years Wasted hosting the jam from 6-10 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 23, the festival moves over to the amphitheater as the gates open at 3, and music begins at 6. Friday will feature three of Harper Guitars’ top guns, beginning with John Sutton. Sutton is known from Western Kentucky to South Florida for his free-wheeling performances which fill up the dance floors. Sutton will be followed by a past favorite, Alonzo Pennington and the Xtraordinary Gentlemen. Pennington is a multi thumb-picking national champion as well as semi-finalist at Memphis’ International Blues Challenge. Finishing up Friday is Jonathon Long. The former Guitar Center King of the Blues is coming off a breakout year in which his self-titled CD, produced by Samantha Fish, drew much critical acclaim and landed him on the radar of Blues guitar guru Joe Bonamassa, who signed Long to play alongside him on his Mediterranean Keeping the Blues Alive Cruise. In fact, Long’s first appearance following the cruise, will be Hot August.
Saturday, the gates open at 10 a.m., and the music starts at noon with Nightfish, one of the original bands from the first Hot August Blues Festival in 1990. Nightfish may well be the regions longest tenured band, having performed continuously for the past 39 years. Nightfish will be followed by The Gough-Martin Blues Band from South Union, Kentucky. Next up is The Beat Daddys. The former Malaco recording artists return to Hot August due to popular demand. The Beat Daddys will be followed by another former Guitar Center King of the Blues, Boscoe France, who will be making his Hot August debut after showcasing his six string skills around the nation and the world. Louisiana’s legendary Big Al and the Heavyweights are next, returning to Hot August Blues for the first time since around the year 2000.
The festival brings a hot dose of Memphis Rhythm and Blues next with The Memphis All-Stars. They played with a who’s who of Memphis music royalty, including Al Green with a legacy that goes back to the heyday of Memphis music with Stax Records. Speaking of Memphis, the next artist received a brass note on Beale Street just this past year as recognition for her contributions to Memphis’ rich musical heritage. The Hot August Blues Festival is proud to bring back, by popular demand, The Reba Russell Band. Finally, fans will want to stick around for the evenings final act, Chicago’s undisputed Queen of Blues Rock, and one of the finest slide players in the world, Joanna Connor. Her YouTube videos have gone viral and racked up millions of views just this year, and her marathon shows at one of Chicago’s most famous Blues clubs, Kingston Mines are legendary.
The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival is set for Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 22-24 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky. Discount tickets are available at KenlakeBlues.com. For a limited time, combo tickets for both Friday and Saturday are only $25, but at the gate will be $45. Patrons will be allowed to bring in their own coolers for the event, for a $15 fee, which covers both Friday and Saturday of the event.
Organizations benefiting from this year’s Hot August Blues Festival include the Marshall County Rescue Squad, which receives 100% of its funding from donations and fundraisers, as well as The Shriners, who will be operating festival shuttles with all tips and proceeds going to the Shriners’ Childrens’ Hospitals and the Knights of Columbus.