Summer music festivals are a huge part of our community here in Wilmington, and one of the biggest events each summer is always the Riverfront Blues & Bar-B-Q Festival at Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park on Wilmington’s Riverfront.
This rocking party celebrates the blues with a fantastic lineup of performers, and complements the weekend with some delicious food.
This year, the Riverfront Blues & Bar-B-Q Festival is scheduled to start on Friday August 5 and fill the park with blues music straight through the entire weekend. Between the outstanding performers, delicious Bar-B-Q cuisine, and the special hotel rates, this is a perfect weekend to either visit Wilmington or host your own little “staycation” right here in town.
The Riverfront Blues & Bar-B-Q Festival is the third major festival that is hosted here in Wilmington each year. We have already featured the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival and the People Festival: A Tribute to Bob Marley so far this year. Now that the jazz and reggae music is behind us, it’s time to focus on the blues!
With roots in African-American work songs and European-American folk music, the blues actually laid the foundation for a lot of jazz, R&B, and rock music that would follow after it. Blues music features specific styles and chord structures that give it a unique sound that is completely its own.
With the blues being a focal point at many summer festivals across the country, it is natural that outdoor BBQ food would be a perfect pairing. Something about slow cooking a rack of ribs with a sweet brown sugar sauce just fits perfectly with the idea of the blues.
This Year’s Performers
Like all of the major music festivals in Wilmington, the Riverfront Blues & Bar-B-Q Festival is just getting better and better each and every year. And this year’s lineup should prove to be the best one yet.
Kicking things off at 5 pm on Friday, August 5 will be Mr. Sipp. Guitar powerhouse Larry McCray will follow him at 6:45 pm. Friday’s headliner will be Butch Trucks & The Freight Train Band, who will be taking the stage around 8:30 pm.
The festival will then be back in action on Saturday, August 6 with The Billy Pierce Band celebrating the release of their latest album starting at 12 pm. They will be followed by Grady Champion at 1:30 pm, the Alixis P Suter Band at 3:15 pm, John Nemeth at 5 pm, and The Nick Moss Band featuring Michael Ledbetter at 6:45 pm. Saturday’s headliner will be Ruthie Foster, who should be starting around 8:30 pm.
There will be an after party performance by Kid Red & The Rocket at the Westin’s River Rock Kitchen following the Saturday festival shows. Once again, there will be no cover charge or admission fee for the after party.
The music will be back on Sunday, August 7 starting with Selwyn Birchwood performing at 12:30 pm. The amazing Samantha Fish will take the stage at 2:30, and headliner Tab Benoit will follow her at 4:30 pm.
Getting to the Festival
Finding your way to Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park from anywhere in Wilmington is not a very difficult task. Just find Market Street, King Street, or Walnut Street, and follow any of them towards the Christina River until you find yourself at the park.
There is a great deal of parking surrounding the park, but it is always best to show up early for an event like this to ensure you don’t have any problems. The gates to the park will open at 4 pm on Friday, 11 am on Saturday, and 11:30 am on Sunday.
Tickets for any specific day can be purchased from the festival’s website. Friday tickets cost $30, and Saturday and Sunday tickets each cost $35. You can also purchase a complete weekend pass for $90.
If you’re considering spending the entire weekend attending the event, you might also want to look into booking a room at The Westin, which is located right around the corner from the park. They are offering a special “Blues Festival Rate” of $104/night or $120/night with breakfast.
As we round the corner into the month of August, the Riverfront Blues & Bar-B-Q Festival will serve as a transition from summer fun into the back to school season.
Make sure you don’t let the summer pass you by! Get out and experience the fantastic music at this year’s festival!