There’s a long history of top shelf Blues in Utah. Some of the earliest Blues gigs were those at the Park West Blues Fests in the early ’80s (BB King, Muddy Waters, James Cotton, amongst many others!) and on to the Snowbird Jazz & Blues Fests from 1987 – 2009 where legends like Son Seals, Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Keb Mo, Johnny Winter, Little Milton, Jimmie Vaughan, Elvin Bishop, Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy, and so many more appeared. In the clubs, the places to be were the Zephyr Club and Dead Goat Saloon which are still revered with reverence by touring Blues bands! (Both coincidentally closed in the summer of 2003). So originally calling this festival the ‘1st Annual Utah Blues Festival’ is a bit of a misnomer considering all the festivals that have occurred here since the early 1980’s and continue to this day (although we are the only ones dedicated to nothin’ but the Blues!).
After Snowbird retired its foray into booking Blues at its festivals, fans didn’t have a place to see local, regional, much less National headliners, play on one bill. In answer to this void, the Rhythm & Blues Rendezvous, at Rockport State Park, was born in 2009 by local musicians and blues enthusiasts. The Rendezvous not only showcased the best in local blues talent but always helped raise money for worthwhile causes and most recently (since 2014), the newly formed 501c(3) – The Utah Blues Society!
On June 13, 2015 the 1st Annual Utah Blues Festival occurred at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center and was a huge success. We had a couple regional headliners on the bill, two stages offering the best in local/regional talent, and a free harmonica workshop that played to a standing room only audience! The great story about last year’s festival was the significant amount of fans that attended who were not your usual blues fans. They were people that came out to hear great live music in a relaxed setting. Hence as we’ve always said…..”Most people don’t know that the music they like is actually blues”!
Last year, needing more room to grow, we made the decision to move the 2nd Annual Utah Blues Festival to downtown Salt Lake City at the Gallivan Center. It accommodated a much larger crowd comfortably, had shade, and plenty of on-site facilities that made it easier on our guests. It’s was easy to get there by TRAX and there was plenty of convenient parking in the area. It’s our new home and one in which we can grow with in the years to come.
This year’s line-up will feature 4 national headliners and is our signature fundraiser for your 501(c)(3) Utah Blues Society. Supporting the festival helps support the various programs the UBS performs throughout the state. We’ll have kids from our Blues in the Schools program attending this year to share their experiences. Please tell your friends about us and come down to the Gallivan Center June 17th for the 3rd Annual Utah Blues Festival. You will have the time of your life in fan friendly environment!