First Stafford Springs Blues Festival deemed a success

By Kitty LeShay - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Wed., Aug. 14, 2013
James Montgomery, on harmonica, wows the audience in Hyde Park at the first Stafford Springs Blues Festival. Photos by Kitty LeShay.
James Montgomery, on harmonica, wows the audience in Hyde Park at the first Stafford Springs Blues Festival. Photos by Kitty LeShay.

The first Stafford Springs Blues Festival went off seamlessly on Saturday, Aug. 10. The musicians connected with the audience, the weather was perfect, the audience was happy, and the organizers left nothing to chance. The concert in Hyde Park began at noon and extended well beyond 10 p.m., with Ramblin Dan Stevens strumming the blues with his fellow musician Bob McCarthy for all the folks who refused to quit listening. They closed out the night at Rick’s Café.

James Montgomery and his band gave the finale performance in the park before the music moved to the Palace Theater with Christine Ohlman of the “Saturday Night Live” band performing music for the indoor crowd.

“C’mon down,” Montgomery encouraged to everyone sitting scattered about the spacious park. And they did - dancing, clapping, and swaying to a stomping harmonica played by a blues legend.

All day long between scheduled performers, Dan Stevens wove his music into the afternoon, sometimes performing with musicians from other bands. His jam with Kelly Ringo, vocalist from Easy Baby, was not to be missed. The bands were a mixture of local musicians such as 13th Step and regional and nationally known performers.

Hostess of the event Ali Kaufman, radio personality from 99.9 FM, could not contain her enthusiasm. “People are streaming in all day. They seem to be really enjoying themselves. The musicians are great, wonderful performers engaging the audience with their tunes and dialogue,” she said.

Families played cards, danced, played ball and picnicked. It was a great day for the multi-generational Page and Pyrch families. “We are having an awesome time,” Jen Pyrch said.

“It is amazing music. We are here until the end. We brought lunch and before-dinner snacks. It is just a great day to be here,” Tracy Page said. For people who did not bring their own food, a Cajun wagon was selling gumbo, jambalaya and etouffee.

Organizers Neil Hoss and Georgia Michalec were pleased with the success of the event. “All the musicians were wonderful. It was a special day and speaks to our vision of downtown. People were meandering from the park to Main Street and supporting businesses. It was great to see people enjoying themselves in beautiful Hyde Park. Stafford is a special place, and we want to see a lot more todays,” Michalec said.

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