NIAGARA FALLS – The legendary John Mayall, a Chicago Blues review and Claudette King, daughter of icon B.B. King, headline three days of music as the Niagara Falls Blues Festival kicks off Friday on Old Falls Street.
The Full Moon Chicago Blues Review gets underway at 5 p.m. Friday, while Mayall, a pioneering British artist, and his band, the Bluesbreakers, take the stage Saturday. B.B. King’s youngest daughter closes the festival next Sunday.
Additionally, the 10th annual Memorial Classic Car and Bike Cruise is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday, beginning at Sal Maglie Stadium on Hyde Park Boulevard and traveling down Pine Avenue to the festival site.
The free festival also features a Gospel Blues Brunch with Marsha McWilson from noon to 7 p.m. next Sunday.
“This is a treat for everybody,” said Toby Rotella, festival founder. “Everyone should make it for at least one day and see what we do. It’s good for the soul and it’s free!”
Friday’s lineup opens with Shawn Holt and the Teardrops and special guest John Primer, followed by Eddie Shaw and the Wolfgang, with guest Donnie “Mr. Downchild” Walsh, and Mac Arnold and Plate Full O’ Blues. They are followed by the Chris O’Leary Band at 10:30 p.m. under the tent.
Local favorites Aces and Eights will get things started at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by The Electras, the Tommy Z Band, and Chicago’s Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials before Mayall takes the stage.
Mayall, who has been referred to as “The Godfather of British Blues” over the span of his 50-year career, was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame just this past May.
Popa Chubby, purveyor of “hard swinging blues rock,” will perform under the tent at 10:30 p.m.
The Gospel Blues Brunch gets underway at noon Sunday with free coffee and pastries.
“I’m bringing in friends from all over Western New York to help me,” said McWilson, who is organizing Sunday’s acts and will begin the day by performing Gospel hymns. “This is going to be like those old tent revivals, back in the day, so people can get a feel for it.”
Among her featured guests will be recording artist Malcolm Wilson and the Joshua Generation; Oral Roberts, originally from Trinidad, to perform Caribbean-Calypso Gospel selections; Richie Derwald, who will perform Elvis Presley’s Gospel selections; and Angel Vox with Marshall Badger, whom McWilson described as an African teen group.
“And we’ll have the super fabulous Constance Matthews of Niagara Falls, one of our premier Gospel singers,” McWilson added. “We’ll also have Men in White, founded by Pat Regan, and liturgical dancers from the Potter’s House here in Niagara Falls.”
The lineup also includes: Jimmy Smith; Ezra Scott; Church Boy 100, teen rappers who perform Christian music; Jesus Centered Music of Buffalo; Living Waters; Steadfast; and Cathy Townsend, a Chicago artist who performs Gospel, jazz and blues.
At 5 p.m., McWilson takes the stage again in an Etta James review, backed by Anthony Taylor and the Beautiful Music Band who will also accompany King at 6 p.m. McWilson and King will perform together to close out the festival.
For more information, visit: www.NiagaraFallsBluesFest.org. The festival is organized by the nonprofit Niagara Festival and Entertainment Group.