And the Winner is….

Sunday afternoon a little piece of blues heaven smiled down on the blues faithful gathered at The 411 Club in Kalamazoo. After the dust settled and the ballots were counted KVBA is happy to announce that Hunt & Gator (Dave Hunt and Dave Allemang) will represent us at the solo/duo act challenge in Memphis this coming January.

Facing very strong competition, The Jim Shaneberger Band ultimately was the choice of the panel of judges – they will represent us at the band challenge at the International Blues Challenge (the largest gathering of blues musicians in the world).

Kev Nichols & Blue Tuesday and Cleveland & Vandenberg came in very, very close second place in their respective categories. Rounding out the field were Kathleen & The Bridge Street Band and The Steve Hilger Band. As you might be able to guess there was big blues love all afternoon! Thanks to our acts for taking part, our judges for doing what they do, and to The 411 Club for opening their doors – and, of course, to the blues faithful who supported the blues challenge and live music. We’re so lucky to have all of you.

Kalamazoo Blues Challenge To Be Held Sunday, Sept. 21, at the 411 Club

Who went to Memphis last year?  Were you one of the lucky folks who braved the snow and cold to make it to Beale Street for one of the greatest gatherings of blues musicians in the world?  Well, guess what:  it’s happening again next year, and YOU have the chance to be there THIS Sunday, when the Kalamazoo Valley Blues Association chooses the acts who will represent us on the stages at the 2015 International Blues Challenge.  This year, for the first time in several years, acts will compete in two categories:  solo-duo and band.  One act from each category will be sponsored by the KVBA at the IBC for the chance to play before eager fans, win fame and fortune, and, oh yeah, have a really great time!

Seventh Son Wins the 2013 Kalamazoo Blues Challenge

Join us this Sunday, Sept. 21 at The 411 Club for the 16th Annual Kalamazoo KVBA Blues Challenge!
  • Doors open at 2:00 p.m.; music starts at 3:00
  • Cost is $8.00
  • Great food, good drink, and cheerful service is always available at the 411 Club
Here’s the line-up:
3:00 – 3:30  Hunt & Gator:  Dave Hunt from Seventh Son and Dave Allemang from Crossroads, teaming up for a sound all their own.
3:45 – 4:15  Cleveland & Vandenberg:  Dave Cleveland, keyboardist extraordinaire from Seventh Son and Steve Vandenberg, well-known local guitar master, creating a mellow presence as a pair.
4:30 – 5:00  Kevin Nichols & Blue Tuesday, out of Jackson:  not only was Kev an IBC semi-finalist in this year’s IBC, but he’s been a semi-finalist since 2004 in two other bands.  Not to be missed!
5:15 – 5:45  Kathleen & The Bridge St. Band: outstanding Lansing vocalist Kathleen appears again this year with the Bridge St. Band, including Kalamazoo members Tim Brouhard and Angello Santelli.
6:00 – 6:30  The Steve Hilger Band: “electric blues” originals from Grand Rapids who rocked this year’s Kalamazoo Blues Fest.
6:45 – 7:15  The Jim Shaneberger Band:  singer/songwriter Jim Shaneberger and his powerhouse group, also appearing from Grand Rapids.
This will be an afternoon not to be missed!  Come early, stay late, and cheer on your favorites.  See you there!

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District Blues Double-bill just one of many blues happenings this weekend.

This Friday, August 15th, the District Square Summer Blues Series will be doing a special Blues Double Header Performance.

Taking the stage this week are local Blues favorites, Seventh Son followed by the Marci Linn Band.

Tickets are just $ 3 for KVBA members, and $ 5 for non-members. Doors open at 7:45, and Seventh Son will take the stage at 8 pm. Next weeks act: Grand Haven’s Vincent Hayes Closing the Series, August 26th with Joanne Shaw Taylor.

For other events happening, check out the blues calendar

Nick Moss In Kalamazoo

One of the outstanding membership benefits over the summer of 2014 has been, and continues to be, the reduced admission to the outdoors blues series at District Square. If you have not been to this outstanding venue located in the heart of the entertainment district, this week might be the time:

The District Square Summer Blues Series will be featuring on July 25th, 2014, Chicago’s 16 time Blues Music Award Nominee artist Nick Moss. The Nick Moss Band is well known in the national blues scene for his soulful R&B inspired Blues that features a kick of rock and roll that will make you want to own all of his 10 Blues records that he has recorded. says; “Moss class shines through, building into a showcase of his fluency on the six string.” When talking about Nick Moss’s most recent album, “Time Ain’t Free”…..”is nothing less than a powerful gumbo of Chicago soul, funk, blues, jam music and rock & roll.” –

The Summer Blues Series is presented by Perry Harley Davidson and State Farm Insurance-Landon Kovacs Agency. Doors open at 7:45 the District Square, behind the Wild Bull on 139 S. Edwards St., Downtown Kalamazoo. Tickets are just $ 8 for KVBA members, and $ 10 for non-members. Series passes are available for just $ 20.

Upcoming shows for the Blues Series includes: Gee Daddy Big Blues Review, Anthony Gomes, 7th Son/Marci Lynn Band, Vincent Hayes, and Joanne Shaw Taylor. You can get more information on the Blues Series at

XXI … Quick Recap and what about XXII?

We’ve closed the books on the 21st Annual Kalamazoo Blues Festival. We’re so grateful for your support on this huge endeavor. Terrific buzz among attendees about Brandon Santini, Wayne Baker Brooks, The Jimmys, Lionel Young Band, Tweed Funk, Marcia Ball, and of course the pre-rain finale featuring Coco Montoya, Tinsley Ellis and Albert Castiglia.

The festival was high energy for all three days, and those of you who may have been dissuaded from attending due to the erroneous dire weather predictions missed a heck of a show. While it did actually rain, the rain event did not occur until the final notes were shot out into the night sky by the guitar triumvirate “Mon-lis-lia.” After a brief halt in the action, Seventh Son regaled the crowd with a proper send off.

From preliminary feedback received, we are toying with two proper all-star jams next year, adjusting schedules to better accommodate band switch-overs, and how we might get more chairs on the festival site. Thanks again to all of you who braved the overly dramatic weather forecasts, our sponsors, our volunteers, and to the blues artists – past, present, and future – who keep the blues alive.

Thank you to our sponsors

The 2014 Blues Festival is in the books. Three days of grey skies, perfect temperatures and fantastic music.

We couldn’t do it without the small army of volunteers. We couldn’t do it without our members. And we couldn’t do it without all our festival sponsors.

They supported us. Please support them.

Thank you all!

Just off the wire!

We just got this in off the wire from the folks at District Square:

“The District Square Summer Blues Series presented by Perry Harley Davidson will be back on tap this Friday Night after it’s one week hiatus enjoying last weekends KVBA Blues Festival at the Arcadia Festival Site. This week the District Square will feature local favorite Crossroads Resurrection, from 8-11 pm. The Summer Blues Series still has 7 weeks remaining in a 14 week series that has been featuring some of the best in local, regional and national Blues talent. Next week, the series will feature award winning Nick Moss band out of Chicago. Tickets for this weeks show are just $ 3 for KVBA members, and $ 5 for non members. Also, series passes are available starting at just $20 [for KVBA members]. You can get more information at”

Friday night lineup change

We learned late yesterday that Dana Fuchs wouldn’t be able to make it to our festival today because of a family health emergency. We know that a lot of people are going to be disappointed by this and we apologize. Mostly, though, we wish Dana the best and hope that everything is okay.

In the meantime, we worked very quickly and were very fortunate to find an excellent artist to take the 7 p.m. slot tonight. Wayne Baker Brooks will be joining us with his own exciting brand of Chicago blues. If you don’t know WBB, hold on to your hats. It’s going to be a great show.

Kalamazoo Blues Festival Starts Today

The entire line-up and schedule for this years festival is here! Make sure to check the Blues Fest tab above for complete information.

3-day passes are available at the festival site for $25 (includes admission to the all-star jam on Thursday)

Thursday July 10 – admission $5
Gates open at 4:30
5:00 – 5:50    Sneaky Pete Band
5:55 – 6:45    Big Trouble
6:50 – 7:40    Big Boss Blues Band
7:45 – 9:00    The Jimmys
9:05 – 10:35    Brandon Santini
10:30              All-star Blues Jam – (at The 411 Club/$5 cover)

Friday July 11 – admission $10
Gates open at 4:30 p.m.
5:00 – 5:55    Stan Budzynski & 3rd Degree
6:00 – 6:55    Steve Hilger Band
7:00 – 8:25    Wayne Baker Brooks
8:30 – 9:55    Lionel Young Band
10:00 – 11:30    Marcia Ball
11:35 – 12:30    Crossroads Resurrection

Saturday  July 12 – admission $12
Gates open at 11:30 a.m.
11:40 – 12:10    Too Left Feet
12:15 – 1:05    The Blues Shed
1:10 – 2:00    The Angelo Santelli Band
2:05 – 2:55    SWB
3:00 – 3:50    Fifi & The Dogs
3:55 – 4:45    Gee Daddy’s Big Blues Review
4:50 – 5:40    Out of Favor Boys
5:45 – 6:55    Tweed Funk
7:00 – 8:20    Albert Castiglia
8:25 – 9:55    Tinsley Ellis
10:00 – 11:30    Coco Montoya
11:35 – 12:30    Seventh Son

What’cha Gonna Do, Where You Gonna Go, For The Blues in the ‘Zoo?

Blues Music Venues in Kalamazoo and Surroundings

Twenty-one years:  that’s how long the Kalamazoo Valley Blues Association has been bringing the best in the blues to the Kalamazoo Blues Festival stages, providing a unique opportunity to hear a selected group of local, regional and national acts gathered together in one place over three exciting days in July.  How cool is that?

Very cool indeed!  But that’s only three days!  What do you do when you’re looking for the blues the other 362 days in the year?  Why, you head out to one of the wonderful clubs, restaurants, and entertainment venues in Kalamazoo and surrounding parts of southwest Michigan to hear your favorite bands, including some of the very acts that have appeared, or will appear, at the Festival over the years.

From the names of clubs popular in years past—you remember Missias’ downtown, don’t you?  Club Soda?  and the grandfather of them all, Wonderful’s Funky Basement?—to the vanguard of blues venues in recent years, such as the 411 Club (long known as Kalamazoo’s Home of the Blues), the Union Cabaret and Grill, the Old Dog Tavern, and the State Theatre, host of the popular WRKR/Bud Blues Series, to recent entrants on the blues scene, such as O’Duffy’s Pub and District Square, the list of excellent places to experience the blues in all its wondrous variety is long and varied.

Many of these establishments provide support for the Kalamazoo Blues Festival in a number of ways, from direct sponsorship to providing publicity and hosting special events.  O’Duffy’s Pub in Kalamazoo, which hosts the popular “OFB Trio” and a variety of other acts on Wednesday and Thursday nights, has recently stepped up as a sponsor for the Festival, while the Union Cabaret and Grill has been a huge supporter for years, showcasing blues acts and coming in second only to the 411 Club as a financial sponsor.  The 411 Club, which will celebrate its 6th anniversary this year, has provided sponsorship from the beginning, as well as hosting the annual Kalamazoo Blues Challenge, regular Blues Community Meetings and other KVBA events, and the popular Sunday Series shows that raise funds for the festival.

There are so many places and ways to hear the blues in our region, including regular blues jams like the 411 Club’s OFB-hosted Thursday night jam (which has a long and varied history that began lo these many years ago at Wonderful’s), the Sunday night jam at the Old Dog, and another Sunday night jam at Planet Rock in Battle Creek, as well as Monday open mic night at the Livery in Benton Harbor.  There are the big stage shows featuring national acts, the largest of which is the State Theatre, which has seen blues giants like BB King and Johnny Winter cross its stage, while Bell’s Brewery and the 411 Club regularly host performers like Jorma Kaukkonen and Kelley Richey.  The Union offers a lively mix of blues and jazz acts, while Webster’s Lounge hosts blues on selected weekends.  There are smaller clubs like the Old Dog in Kalamazoo that introduce an eclectic variety of bands to their audiences, new venues like the Warehouse in Battle Creek, and recent entries on the blues scene, like Mike’s North Forty near Paw Paw, which has been featuring the Roxy Revival on Saturday nights.  And don’t forget the Summer Blues Series at the recently-opened District Square in downtown Kalamazoo!

Kalamazoo and the surrounding area of southwest Michigan is blessed with a great many excellent local blues acts, who can be heard at all of these venues and more, such as Bennucci’s in Kalamazoo, Pasche’s in Battle Creek, and the Black River Tavern in South Haven.  Range out a little further to Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Mishawaka, Indiana, and the list of blues venues becomes too long to detail.  Where else would it be so easy to support live music and keep the blues alive, not just during the three days of the festival, but all through the year?  We are fortunate indeed!

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