Greenville to be singin#039; the Blues

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005

Plenty of good acoustic blues and gospel music, arts and crafts by local artisans, tasty southern food and family fun and entertainment will all be on hand when the Sweet Gum Bottom Blues Fest comes to the Camellia City Oct. 15 and 16.

The celebration of southern tastes and tunes comes to Greenville courtesy of Greenville Main Street, the Greenville Area Arts Council and a number of local sponsors.

"With some cooperation from Mother Nature, we should be in for a great weekend," Nancy Idland, Main Street executive director, said.

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The festivities will take place in the area behind the Ritz Theatre in downtown Greenville.

Family Fun Time, with free admission, is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15.

The Acoustics Blues Competition takes over at 2 p.m. Saturday, with special guests Little Jimmy Reed and Willie King and the Liberators performing a plugged-in show to close out the evening.

An admission charge of $7 for adults and $1 for children goes into effect at 2 p.m. that day.

To close out the festival, Bill J. Brooks of Tupelo, Miss. is slated to perform his smooth gospel style at 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon at the historic Ritz Theatre downtown.

The weekend will get an early kick off on Thursday, Oct. 13, with a 6 p.m. concert in Confederate Park featuring two of the professional musicians slated for the festival's acoustic blues competition.

"We will also have some wonderful refreshments for people to enjoy that night, so we hope to have a good turnout and offer a great taste of the blues," Idland said.

A total of six blues acts will be competing for prize monies totaling $1,750 during the Saturday competition. The first and second place winners will be chosen by popular vote.

"We have musicians from as far away as Ontario and Seattle traveling all the way to Greenville to be a part of our first blues festival – this is exciting," Nancy Idland, Main Street director, said.

Family Fun Time will bring back many of the favorite free activities of past fall festivals.

"We'll have a crafts tent for the kids where they can make their own musical instruments and silly hats. There will also be a magic show, local musical group, the Ben Nelson Band, Wild West performer Bruce Brannen with his trick roping and tall tales, and lots more fun," Idland said.

Plenty of great food will also be available, "everything from authentic Cajun foods, barbecue, fried chicken, grits and biscuits to pound cake, fried apple tarts and a lot more," Idland said.

A cooking contest orchestrated by Julie Autrey of Just Julie's is also planned.

For those wanting to do a little early holiday shopping, local artists, potters and craftspeople will be displaying and selling their wares during the festival.

According to Idland, special festival souvenirs will also be available, including Sweetgum Bottom Blues Fest keepsake posters, T-shirts and other items.

"I am really excited about the whole blues aspect of the festival, which celebrates the music of E.D. Bell, a Greenville man who made some of the best blues music of the 1920s," Idland said.

For information about vendor spaces or other questions concerning the upcoming Blues Fest, contact Nancy Idland at 382-8729 and leave a message. Learn more about the scheduled entertainers by visiting