Blues lyrics often ooze pain and sacrifice, but if you love the genre, you should be grinning ear to ear.
Whether you’re into rootsy acoustic blues, soulful blues or lip-curling blues-rock guitar solos, there’s plenty you won’t want to miss this summer. (And that’s not even including classic-rock band ZZ Top on Sept. 16 at the Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater.)
“Logic tells me this doesn’t constitute a revival of any sort,” chuckles Boise Blues Society treasurer Mike Witmer. “But I like to think it’s some little flicker of something happening.”
Flicker. Bonfire. All I know is that Matthew Curry’s fretboard pyrotechnics might set a couple of trees ablaze in Julia Davis Park at the Boise Blues Festival. If you skip that free show July 19, don’t come crying later. You deserve to have the blues.
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Here’s a quick rundown:
•Too Slim and the Taildraggers:
Tim “Too Slim” Langford is a familiar name to Northwest blues-rock fans. Now based in Nashville, the singer and slide guitarist is playing a gig that he’s hoping will help offset medical bills from his recent battle with cancer.8 p.m. July 10, Powerhouse, 621 S. 17th St., Boise. $15, Ticketfly.
•Blues and Bones Festival:
Singer and blues-rock guitarist Shane Dwight headlines this shindig, which offers multiple bands, slow-cooked barbecue and local beer. The California native isn’t a household name, but he’s a tremendous guitarist and great songwriter, says Witmer, who hosts“Mojo Mike’s Blues Revue”
from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Mondays on Radio Boise 89.9 / 93.5 FM. “And he’s moved to Nashville now,” Witmer adds, “so now he’s got more of a country vibe to his (newer) stuff.”2 to 10 p.m. July 11, Crooked Flats, 3705 Idaho 16, Eagle. $19.99-$29.99 advance, bluesandbones.com/idaho .
•Boise Blues Festival:
This annual “picnic” from the Boise Blues Society has been rebranded as a festival. “We’re not necessarily going to be huge this year,” Witmer says modestly, “but we’re working toward getting bigger.” No kidding. Let’s put it this way: Unless guitarist Joe Bonamassa magically appears in Boise this year, 20-year-old headliner Matthew Curry will be the most technically proficient blues-rock specialist you see in 2015. Even crazier? The left-hander sings, too, with this confident, raspy edge. He is flat-outsick
Update: The Ben Rice Trio has been added as a replacement for Oregon bluesman Jimmy Lloyd Rea, who died last week. A singer and slide guitarist, Rice is an excellent regional addition to the four-act bill. Still, it will be Curry’s day to torch the crowd. Noon to 6 p.m. July 19, Julia Davis Park, 700 S. Capitol Blvd. Admission: three canned goods for Idaho Foodbank. boisebluesfestival.com.
Yes, this singer-guitarist gets attention for being female and attractive. And for being a blues-rock musician from eastern Europe. Bottom line, Popovic is a gifted, ripping electric guitarist and a convincing vocalist. Plus, she tours the wheels off of her van — which got stolen, incidentally, along with her band’s gear, last month. (Hither Facebook page
for details.) There’s something cool about hearing Popovic sing the blues with that distant trace of Serbia in her voice.7:30 p.m. July 30, Sapphire Room, 2900 W. Chinden Blvd., $22-$27, Brown Paper Tickets.
The son of folk singer Leon Bibb, this Grammy-nominated singer and acoustic guitarist is a must-see for fans of real-deal roots blues — and uplifting messages. “He’s just in that rich tradition of the troubadour, wandering, mystical kind of solo blues man,” Witmer says. “It’s hard to describe what it is, but lots of people have that same kind of connection with him when you see him.” Bibb lives in Finland, so this is a rare shot to catch him in Boise.7:30 p.m. Sept. 8, Sapphire Room, 2900 W. Chinden Blvd., $22-$27, Brown Paper Tickets.
•The Robert Cray Band
: Cray, 61, has fused soul music with blues for decades. Yet when I asked him once to explain the difference between the genres, the phone went silent. “I don’t know,” he told me, sounding a little bewildered. “It’s rough. It’s really rough.” Come on, you’re a legend! “To me, I can’t separate them, that’s what’s always been my problem,” he said with a laugh. “Why should I start now? I can’t do it!” This is precisely why you need to see this five-time Grammy winner’s hands glide over his Stratocaster while he sings.8 p.m. Aug. 11, Egyptian Theatre, 700 W. Main St., Boise. $37.50. TicketWeb.
Michael Deeds’ column runs Fridays in Scene and alternating Sundays in Explore. He co-hosts “The Other Studio” at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.