Wilmington’s summer of music continues this weekend in Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park with the return of the annual Riverfront Blues Festival #inWilm.
“Thanks to the City of Wilmington’s partnership with the Diamond State Blues Society, the Riverfront Blues Festivals turns 21 this year and is still going strong! This year’s Festival will feature 3 musical days of Zydeco to New Orleans to Chicago blues and everything in between,” says the City of Wilmington’s Cultural Affairs Director Tina Betz.
The festival kicks off Friday at 5pm with saxophonist Vanessa Collier, who’s explosive mainstage performance you may remember from 2016’s Ladybug Music Festival. TuTu Jones brings his intricate and passionate riffs to the stage, with the strong-yet-sweet soulful chops of Samantha Fish closing out opening night. A second side stage features regional acts throughout the weekend, with Steal Your Peach offering two sets on Friday evening.
The fest resumes Saturday at noon with Future of the Blues, featuring phenomenal up-and-coming young adults from the region INcluding Jeffrey Attakorah; Anna McLaughlin; Jon Hay & Zach Lees. New Orleans harmonica legend Johnny Sansone and Bernard Allison, Paris-born son of the late, great blues artist Luther Allison, round out the evening on the main stage. Side stage Saturday acts include Dirty Deal and Venom Blues, among others.
A lighter day winds down RBF on Sunday with the old-school stylings of Zac Harmon starting things off at 12:30 on the main stage. NOLA INfluenced Jon Cleary brings his gumbo of tunes inspired by 70s soul, gospel, funk and Afro-Cuban sounds to the main stage next, with returning RBF favorite Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers bringing the festival to a close. In between acts, you can catch Gary Allegretto performing on the side stage.
So now that you know the music alone is worth every penny, what else do we like about this annual affair? For one, the intimate size of the festival allows for it to be a little less strict than what concert goers have come to expect from nearby stadium performances. You’re welcome to bring your own food and drinks onto the grounds (non-alcoholic, no glass permitted) and you can even haul in your own pop-up tent to provide shade and stake personal hang-out grounds for you and your crew (towards the back of the lawn where you won’t block views – no tent side walls permitted). So pack your blankets, chairs, sunscreen and festival accessories and get ready for one amazing day of fun IN the sun.
And don’t forget the kids, especially since ages 12 and under are FREE! The fur babies, however, will need to stay at home for this one (unless they’re service dogs, of course).
Hmmm, what else are we forgetting? Food trucks and vendors will be on site and a cash bar is available. Gates open each day one hour prior to opening performances. Tickets range from $25-$80 and can be purchased at RiverfrontBluesFestDE.com. The $80 weekend passes are NOT available day-of, so if you want IN on all of the action, be sure to purchase in advance.