For the fifth year in a row, the Topeka Blues Society will present a stellar line-up of internationally-renowned artists at its Spirit of Kansas Blues Festival at Lake Shawnee, Reynolds Lodge, 3315 SW Tinman Circle in Topeka on Friday, July 4th. There is no admission charge for the festival which will start at noon and present continuous music until 9 pm. The Topeka Blues Society is continuing to accept donations to support the festival. All donations are tax deductible and may be sent to P.O. Box 4953, Topeka, KS 66604.The traditional fireworks spectacular will occur after dark.
Local blues artists will kick off the festival at noon. Dave Bostwick from Baldwin loves to entertain his listeners with original songs which often spring from his personal experiences. He has represented the Topeka Blues Society twice in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge.
The Old No. 5’s is a three-member band with connections to Kansas City, Lawrence, and Wichita. The band, which advanced to the semi-finals of the International Blues Challenge in January, is comfortable playing everything from Americana to vintage soul.
Topeka-based band Slow Ya Roll will perform its signature funk and soul. The group counts among its influences Marvin Gaye, Etta James, and Sly and the Family Stone.
Once the crowd has been thoroughly warmed up, blues artists who perform across the United States and internationally will keep the party going. The Randy Oxford Band, a high-energy six-piece group from Seattle, is unusual in that it boasts four lead vocalists. The multi-talented members are lead by trombonist Randy Oxford and specialize in original funk and blues compositions. The band, whose latest recording …it feels good… was released earlier this year, has progressed to the semi-finals and finals of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
The 44s is a band which hails from Los Angeles and regularly captivates audiences with its gritty blues roots style. The band’s debut release, Boogie Disease, was self-produced for only $800 and garnered rave reviews and awards. Americana, produced by guitar great Kid Ramos, was released in 2012 and has had them touring non-stop.
Canadian-born guitarist Anthony Gomes now calls St. Louis home. Gomes, who has been named one of the top ten guitarists in the world, refers to himself as a blues evangelist. His sound leans toward blues rock although he can play any blues style, and his last three CDs have all debuted on the Billboard top ten chart.
Hamilton Loomis from Houston headlines the main stage this year. A protégé of Bo Diddley, Loomis is a quadruple threat – he writes most of his own material, sings, and plays guitar and harmonica. He has built up a dedicated local following, having become a regular at Topeka’s own Uncle Bo’s Blues Bar, and he has also been an active participant in Blues in the Schools which exposes kids to blues music and its history.
The Topeka Blues Society is enforcing a “no grills” policy due to the danger of fires and personal injury. However, blues fans will not have to go hungry as food will be available for purchase in the festival area this year.