(First published in the August 15, 2019 issue of City Pages)
Big Bull Falls Blues Fest
FRI.-SAT. 8/16-17 | FERN ISLAND PARK, WAUSAU
This high-volume, high-energy affair has anchored Wausau summers for decades. The iconic event also happens to be the longest-running blues festival in the state, and still runs hot, attracting a huge crowd year after year. Each act brings their own style—ranging from roots, to gospel, to rock. Music plays under the large tent, while the park is filled with food and drink vendors. No carry-ins allowed, except a cooler of ice. Bring your own lawn chair and a blanket. No smoking under tents, no firearms/weapons or pets. Music plays rain or shine, except in severe weather.
Shuttles run between Blues Fest and several hotels located in Wausau and Weston as well as the Marathon Park campground. Wausau shuttle runs about every 40 minutes Fri. 3:30-11:30 pm; Sat. 11:30 am-11:30 pm; Weston shuttle runs about every 45 minutes Fri. 3:45-11 pm; Sat. 11:45 am-11 pm.
$50 both days in advance or $55 at the gate); $15 Fri. only; $45 in advance or $50 at the gate Sat. only. Details at WausauEvents.org.
5 pm | Big Al Dorn is a harmonica and guitar player from Milwaukee playing Chicago Blues fused with elements of swing and boogie. His sound is full of smokin’ grooves and powerful harmonica, all played with a fiery passion.
7 pm | Lindsay Beaver leaves a lasting impression with her soulful vocals and rockin’ drumming. From Nova Scotia, the classically trained vocalist and jazz-trained drummer performs blues, jazz and R&B with a punk rock energy.
9 pm | Albert Castiglia performs contemporary blues with a hard-edged, rocking country sound. The extraordinary guitarist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida connects with audiences through his soulful lyrics.
1 pm | Kevin Burt this singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Iowa performs roots-driven blues full of soulful and expressive vocals that has electrified audiences around the U.S. for more than two decades.
3 pm | Nikki Hill was raised in the church choir and blends elements of R&B, blues, gospel and rock with a rich and sultry voice. From New Orleans, Hill performs with a spitfire attitude and charisma that enchants any audience.
5 pm | Blues Beatles add a bluesy twist to the songs of the Beatles. The Brazilian-based band combines blues and soul groove along with instrumental solos and improvisation, making their live performances fiery and fun.
7 pm | Sugaray Rayford is a force of nature with his larger-than-life vocals. From Texas, his sound blends elements of gospel, funk, soul and jazz. He’s a powerful performer with an infectious, happy vibe.
9 pm | Southern Hospitality performs original and dynamic Americana, Southern soul, blues and rock with a modern sensibility. Keyboard wizard Victor Wainwright grounds it all with jazzy, funky grooves.
For more HIGHLIGHTS and a full list of events happening in the Wausau area, pick up a City Pages or view our event listings here!