Friday, March 1, 2024

Blues and booze: the 22nd annual Cape Fear Blues Festival returns this weekend

The James Armstrong Band headlines the main event at 7 p.m. Saturday night at the Rusty Nail. (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY CAPE FEAR BLUES SOCIETY)
The James Armstrong Band headlines the main event at 7 p.m. Saturday night at the Rusty Nail. (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY CAPE FEAR BLUES SOCIETY)

WILMINGTON — The Cape Fear Blues Festival returns to the Port City for a weekend of music and festivities.

The annual festival, now in its 22nd year, is hosted by the Cape Fear Blues Society and the Rusty Nail. It features 11 of the region’s “finest blues musicians” for a three-day non-stop jam session.

The festival will take place in downtown Wilmington, hosting concerts and events from Friday, June 23 through Sunday, June 25.

The festival kicks off this evening in Riverfront Park with Downtown Sundown series, featuring “Dustin Arbuckle & The Damnations” as well as “Slippery Jake & The Bad Brakes,” from 6:30 to 10 p.m.

If that’s not quite your style, Wilmington Water Tours is offering a “Sunset Blues Cruise with Randy McQuay.” The tour will offer beverages, appetizers and of course live blues music as you cruise the waters of the Cape Fear River.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit the Wilmington Water Tours website at fareharbor.com/wilmingtonwatertours.

The evening will wrap up with a Downtown Sundown after party at the Rusty Nail, located at 1310 S. 5th Ave., featuring the “Dry Pond Blues Band.” The party kicks off at 9 p.m., and costs $5 at the door.

Saturday begins with two free events, including a free Blues Workshop with “Chicago Blues Ambassador” John McDonald at Finkelstein Music on Front St. at 11 a.m. After that, Ted’s Fun on the River will host an “Acoustic Blues Gathering” with “Spider Mike Bouchey and Friends,” starting at 1 p.m.

Saturday afternoon the festival kicks into high gear with four major blues acts playing under the tent at the Rusty Nail. The beer tent opens at 2 p.m. The Coastal Blue Band kicks off the music at 3 p.m., followed by Jamie Michele’s Blues Connection, and Randy McQuay. The concert will be headlined by the James Armstrong Band, who performs at 7 p.m.

The event costs $20 to attend, tickets are available at capefearblues.org.

The festival wraps up Sunday afternoon, with an “All Day Blues Jam” at the Rusty Nail. The event is free to attend, and will include a guitar giveaway as well as a “Post-Jam after Party.”

For information, and to view the full lineup, visit capefearblues.org, or check out the Rusty Nail on Facebook.


Send comments and tips to Cory Mannion at cory@localvoicemedia.com, @corymannion on Twitter, and @corythamann on Facebook.

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