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Ryan Johnson, Published August 14 2013

Fargo Blues Festival lands solid lineup for 18th year

FARGO – Dan Bredell said many music festivals land a big headlining act, while their openers are often “not so hot.”

But that’s not the case with the Fargo Blues Festival, said Bredell, the event’s executive director. With a lineup of 12 bands performing Friday and Saturday, all have earned their place on the 18th annual lineup.

“We try to make even the opening acts we pick quite good,” he said.

Organizers get 250 to 300 CDs each year from possible acts and listen to each two or three times before narrowing down the list, he said.

The hard work pays off. The event has drawn attendees from all lower 48 states, five Canadian provinces and 10 foreign countries, he said.

But Fargo-Moorhead residents won’t have to travel far to be a part of the region’s premier blues festival at the Newman Outdoor Field that Bredell said is on track to have near-record attendance Saturday.

The Friday lineup includes Charlie Musselwhite, the winner of seven Grammy Awards and 23 Blues Music Awards. The harmonica master also pulled off a rare feat for a blues musician earlier this year, when his collaboration with Ben Harper, “Get Up!,” landed at the top of the Billboard charts.

Bredell said Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials also are a must-see act Friday, as is Albert Castiglia, “one of the greatest guitar bands I’ve ever heard.”

Rounding out the Friday lineup is the Daddy Mac Blues Band, the Lisa Wenger Band and the Blues Valley Band.

Bredell said Saturday’s headliner, Walter Trout, is arguably one of the greatest guitarists to ever live, but Janiva Magness also has quite a bit of buzz heading into her Saturday set.

Magness has won 17 Blues Music Awards in the past two years, including Blues Entertainer of the Year and Blues Album of the Year.

“She’s just phenomenal,” Bredell said.

The Saturday lineup also features six-piece brass band Big James and the Chicago Playboys, the Rusty Wright Band, the Brandon Sprague Blues Band and the Deb Jenkins Blues Band.

The Fargo Blues Festival is a lot more than just two days of live music, Bredell said. The event also features 40 food, beer and novelty booths, and a campground experience just two blocks away from the Newman Outdoor Field.

If you go

What: Fargo Blues Festival

When: Music starts at 2 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday.

Where: Newman Outdoor Field, 1515 15th Ave. N., Fargo

Info: Tickets are $23 for a single-day pass, $35 for a two-day pass and $25 for a camping pass, and are available in the metro at Happy Harry’s Bottle Shops, Mother’s Music and all six Hornbacher’s supermarkets. Tickets also can be purchased at the gate the day of the event for an additional $5. For more information, visit www.fargobluesfest.com.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587