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Deep Blue Innovators in Monmouth

Rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, and hip hop all have their roots in the blues. Yet it seems as though the blues does not get its due. That will change – at least for a day – in Monmouth.

The Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival begins Saturday afternoon at the Rivoli Theatre. The doors open at 2:00 and the music begins at 2:30. Ticket information can be found here.

Organizer Paul Schuytema said the idea behind the festival is to put the spotlight on musicians who are advancing the blues.

“To focus it on people who are rooted in the tradition of the blues but are trying to do something innovative, trying to do something a little bit better and more spectacular,” Schuytema said.

The headliner for the blues fest is The Matthew Skoller Band. Other performers include Blue Mother Tupelo, Scott Ainslie, Fred Dixon, and Charlie Hayes and Joel Fleming.

In addition, a guitar workshop led by Ainslie will be held at the Buchanan Center for the Arts from 10:30 am to noon. It is free but seating is limited so registration is required.

Schuytema said the blues should be considered a celebration of “getting your skeletons out of the closet” and facing the things that are hard.

“And doing that in song and (getting) your feet stomping. It’s kind of cathartic. It’s sort of a way to celebrate the struggles rather than being overtaken by them,” Schuytema said.

Schuytema said he decided to start the blues festival after being moved by Dixon’s performance at an open mic night. He felt the musician deserved to be heard on a larger stage. Six years later, Schuytema is still staging the event.

“As far as an event that is a real wonderful cultural jewel for a community in our region, it’s really successful.”

He called it “..a day of joy and celebration – and ribs too, and that’s essential.”

Rich is TSPR's News Director.