For the first time in decades, the Southern Arizona Blues Heritage Foundation will hold its annual music festival in a new venue.
This year’s daylong concert will take place Sunday at Rillito Raceway Park, 4502 N. First Ave.
The event has traditionally been held at Reid Park’s DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center, but the new space allows room for growth, said SABHF spokeswoman Susan Holden.
“It just seemed like something that we needed to do,” said Holden, who also runs the Rhythm & Roots concert series. “There is better parking, more room for people to be comfortable with their chairs and shade.”
The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is $10 and free for children 18 and younger.
For a full schedule, visit i84294.wix.com/azbluesorg online.
Here are some highlights.
Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings
Rogers is a Delta blues slide guitar master who has shared stage and studio time with the likes of Steve Miller, Linda Ronstadt, Sammy Hagar and Carlos Santana.
Rogers, 63, was named after the famous cowboy actor Roy Rogers and was a member of John Lee Hooker’s Coast-to-Coast band. His latest album, a collaboration with the late Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek — called “Twisted Tales” — came out in June.
Holden’s take: “He learned at the feet of many masters. He can do traditional, but he can also do contemporary.”
Grainger is a Sydney, Australia-born slide guitarist who plays a mix of folk, soul and blues. A fan of Otis Rush, Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Grainger started her career performing with her brother as part of the Australian band Papa Lips. She has lived in California since 2008 and makes frequent treks across the U.S while on tour. Her latest album, “Shiver & Sigh,” came out in July on Eclecto Groove Records.
Holden’s take: “There aren’t many women out there doing this. She is a great role model for women who want to play guitar.”
Chicha Dust is known more locally for its cumbia rock ’n’ roll music than its blues. The band is still one of the hottest groups in Tucson with a sizable fanbase across the U.S. and in Europe. Its lineup includes Winston Watson on drums and Brian Lopez and Gabriel Sullivan on vocals and guitar.
Holden’s take: “They are such a great local band that is becoming internationally known. Here we have a Tucson group that is so much bigger than Tucson. Gabriel has that big giant candy box of everything he does. Blues is just a part of it.”
The Cholla High School Blues Band
The next generation of local blues talent can be found within the walls of Cholla High Magnet School. The group of young musicians will kick off this year’s festivities.
Holden’s take: “They study the blues and have gravitated toward this artform. We are not in the Delta. We are not in the Deep South. Yet these kids have not only studied the history of the music but the history of the culture that brought us the music.”