Blues Café

(First published in the March 8, 2018 issue of City Pages)


Victor Wainwright


Wausau loves blues music. Big Bull Falls Blues Festival, the largest and longest running blues festival in the state, is held here each summer. And for your winter fix, there’s Blues Café. This 19th annual day-long music fest features five blues bands, with bluesy singer-songwriter Cathy Grier playing acoustic music between sets. While all these acts have a soulful blues base, each brings their own sound and style to the stage. It’s a remarkably diverse lineup of music. This festival is hosted by the Great Northern Blues Society, the oldest blues society in Wisconsin. Doors open at noon. $20 advance, $25 door.

1 pm Big N’ Tasty Blues Band from Green Bay draws from a variety of influences including blues, rock, country and funk. They retain a traditional blues sound but improvise in a unique style that is shaped by each member of the 7-piece band. With keyboards, harmonica and saxophone topped with excellent vocal harmonies, this versatile ensemble has a distinct and upbeat style.

3 pmThe Norman Jackson Band ranked third in the 2016 International Blues Challenge Finals. Performing a real blues sounds, this Missouri-based band’s soul, R&B and funk influence is highlighted by some excellent saxophone. These guys want the audience to forget their problems and have fun during their performance. It’s hard not to with “The Soul Machine” Norman Jackson’s infectious smile, grooving guitar and hilarious storytelling.


Southern Avenue

5 pm — Southern Avenue has become one of the most talked about bands in Memphis. The young but seasoned musicians perform a blend of soulful, funky rock built on a foundation of blues. This female-fronted fiery quintet embodies the blues and gospel traditions of Memphis, but with a youthful and dynamic energy. Sisters Tierinii and Tikyra Jackson bring the girl power to this group with charismatic and vivacious Tierinii on lead vocals and powerful Tikyra on drums. This group is certain to get the crowd up on their feet.

7 pm — Victor Wainwright & The Train features one of the greatest blues piano players in the business. In 2017 Wainwright was awarded the Blues Music Award for Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year. This composer, producer, vocalist, and award-winning entertainer’s career began over a decade ago playing honky-tonk rock. His sound has since broadened to include every corner of blues.


Jeremiah Johnson

9 pm The Jeremiah Johnson Band based in St. Louis plays a mix of blues, roots and Southern rock. Front man Jeremiah grew up listening to Mississippi blues and after relocating to Houston, his blues and Texas music styles merged, producing a rockin’ guitar-heavy sound. His band creates a high-energy party sound that’s a perfect rowdy end to the day.

For full listing of events in the Wausau area, pick up City Pages or visit our events listing here!