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FESTIVAL ‌ Heart & Soul

The Bonterra Lowcountry Blues Bash gets crankin'

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2006 Bonterra Lowcountry Blues Bash
Fri. Feb. 10 — Sun. Feb. 19
$15 and below
762-9125 (info)
www.bluesbash.com

Charleston's annual celebration of authentic blues music kicks off this weekend in and around downtown. Local musician, blues enthusiast, and fest organizer Gary Erwin — known best to locals as bandleader "Shrimp City Slim" — assembled over 45 local and visiting artists for this year's series of events.

Already in its 16th year, the bash offers 10 days and nights of live performances in concert halls, clubs, and unusually intimate settings across the city. According to Erwin, the event aims to showcase the talents, stylistic interpretations (and reinterpretations), and grooves from a wide array of acts, many of whom play several shows in one day on the schedule (see Feedback File online for more). Tickets are available for shows at the venues. Prices range between $3 and $15 (although many events are free). For information, visit www.bluesbash.com or call Erwin's hotline at 762-9125.

Of course, these are just a few notable performers out of a long list of acts. Keep the eyes and ears open and check out what's happening; there's something for just about any music fan — from midday "Boogie Brunch" events on Folly Beach to the early evening "King Bees Blues Revue" jam sessions on the Isle of Palms to the smoky club concerts downtown and in Mt. Pleasant.

An event like this provides a unique opportunity for Charleston music fans to support and celebrate a truly American art form. As Blues Bash organizer Gary Erwin put its, "Under the radar, there's just a gigantic population of people playing hardcore, traditional blues who don't get the same opportunities as the commercial players. This event and events like it are really meant to give these people work. Because otherwise, the economics of being on the road have become so difficult and the circuit has dried up to the extent that artists really depend on these events to play. Hopefully, people will learn about the music by coming to something like this."

Among this year's blues artists, several stand out as truly seasoned veterans — players and singers who lived and worked through some of the country's most troubling times. Through their extraordinary life experiences, they know genuine, pure blues.

For additional information on venues, check out the Music Board listings in this section and online.

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