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Blues returns for 21st year

Posted: September 21, 2017 10:29 a.m.
Updated: September 22, 2017 1:00 a.m.

Produced and presented by the Fine Arts Center (FAC) of Kershaw County, the Carolina Downhome Blues Festival celebrates its 21st year. Touted by blues aficionados as South Carolina’s oldest continuous blues crawl, this year’s event, scheduled for Oct. 5-7, features more than 21 artists in 15 venues over three days. Armbands are on sale now. The cost is $5 for Thursday, Oct. 5 and $10 each for Friday, Oct. 6 and Saturday, Oct. 7. Armbands may be purchased by calling (803) 425-7676, visiting the FAC website at, at the FAC box office, located at 810 Lyttleton St. in Camden, or at any participating venue during the festival.

This year’s venues include the Jim & Pat Watts Performing Arts Wing (PAW), Bassett Gallery, and Shull Pavilion at the FAC; The Venue on Broad; Gadgets of Camden; Sam Kendall’s; Hifalutin; ¡Salud! Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Lounge; La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant; Frenchy’s Authentic Cajun Cuisine; Books on Broad; Davis & Sons Guitar Shop; Lugoff-Elgin High School (Blues In the Schools); Kershaw County Farmers’ Market and Grace Episcopal Church. Restaurant shows (excluding Gadgets of Camden) will be free and open to the restaurant customers. All other venues (unless noted) will require an armband.

Sponsors of the 21st Annual Carolina Downhome Blues Festival are Heritage Chevrolet Buick GMC, First Citizens Bank, South Carolina ENT Allergy & Sleep Medicine, Senator Vincent Sheheen, Sharp USA and KW Beverage. Media partners include the Chronicle Independent, Community Broadcasters LLC, The State Media Company, KOOL 102.7/Startime 1590, Camden Living and the Free Times. Special funding is also provided by Kershaw County, the city of Camden and the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. This year’s host hotels are the Comfort Inn & Suites, Holiday Inn Express and the Colony Inn.

A full schedule, along with artist biographies can be found on the FAC website as well as the Carolina Downhome Blues Facebook page, at Please note that the schedule is subject to change without notice.

* Event Highlights

Thursday evening’s kick-off party, co-hosted by the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce, as part of its monthly Business After Hours, will feature an energetic and soulful performance by South Carolina’s own Elliott and the Untouchables. Concert goers will be able to enjoy southern barbeque, sides, and soft drinks provided by Old South Restaurant, and KW Beverage will be serving a nice variety of adult refreshments.

After the Kickoff Party, head out for dinner and a blues performance at one of four restaurant venues -- Sam Kendall’s, Hifalutin, Salud! and Gadgets of Camden -- then head over to the Venue On Broad for a “do not miss” performance by up and coming blues artist Vanessa Collier. Singer, songwriter, and saxophonist, Collier was recently nominated for a 2017 Blues Music Award (BMA).

On Friday, the blues hit the schools with the annual “Blues in the Schools” at Lugoff-Elgin High School for nearly 600 students. Each year, Carolina Downhome Blues Artistic Director Gary Erwin, better known as Shrimp City Slim, delights students with a variety of Blues tunes and educates them about the history and tradition of the blues. This also marks the 21st year for this educational outreach performance.

Enjoy Blues at lunchtime from noon to 2 p.m., take in shopping along Broad Street or do some sightseeing, then rest up for Friday evening’s festivities with restaurant shows beginning at 6:30, along with an 8 p.m. performance in the PAW featuring David Russell & the Port City Blues, known for fiery, real-life originals and covers of the blues legend, or you can catch a performance by Al Hill at Gadgets of Camden from 8-11 p.m. Hill is a Nashville-based singer, piano player, and guitarist who won first place Memphis for Best Solo/Duo Act and Best Solo Guitarist at the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

At 10 p.m., don’t miss the much-anticipated performance by featured artist, John Primer and the Real Deal Blues band at the Venue On Broad. Two-time Grammy nominated artist and American blues legend John Primer is the “real deal.”

Saturday is jam-packed with performances starting at the Kershaw County Farmers’ Market at Historic Camden at 9 a.m. with additional performances during the lunch hour. There will be acoustic performances at the FAC’s Bassett Gallery at 1 p.m. (Dr. Pickup, Drink Small and John Primer), and performances at Books On Broad (Marv Ward) and Davis & Son’s Guitar shop with Rusty Davis and Floyd Callen. Look for several artisan vendors set up in front of the Bassett Building at the FAC on Saturday from noon until 6 p.m.

The evening will consist of restaurant performances, as well as two headline performances -- the Paul DesLauriers Band, award-winning blues rock band, is comprised of virtuoso guitarist and singer Paul DesLauriers, Greg Morency on bass, and Sam Harrisson on drums at 7 p.m. in the PAW; and Geoff Achison & the Soul Diggers at 9 p.m. at the Venue On Broad, an award-winning blues-roots artist from Australia. This will be an energetic live performance showcasing unique guitar mastery.

Stay until Sunday and enjoy a special Blues Mass featuring Geoff Achison, 11 a.m., at Grace Episcopal Church, 1315 Lyttleton St. This performance is free and open to the public.

The artwork for this year’s festival was designed by local artist Troy Rider and depicts one of this year’s featured artists, John Primer. Special thanks also go to Custom Printwear for the great limited edition t-shirt design.  

*Scheduled to appear this year (in alphabetical order):

Geoff Achison & the Soul Diggers (Australia)

Luckyman Beall (SC)

Blues Deluxe Duo (SC)

Davis Coen (TN)

Vanessa Collier (PA)

Tas Cru and the Tortured Souls (TN)

Rusty Davis & Floyd Callen (SC)

Paul DesLauriers Band (Canada)

Dr. Pickup (France)

Elliott & the Untouchables (SC)

John Clam Chop Etheridge (AL)

J.W. Gilmore & the Blues Authority

Al Hill (TN)

John Dee Holeman & Tad Walters (NC)

Robert Lighthouse (Sweden)

Wes Mackey (Canada)

Roots & Dore (NC)

Davis Russell & the Port City Blues (NC)

Shrimp City Slim (SC)

Drink Small (SC)

Rev. Marv Ward (SC)

*Schedule is subject to change without notice.


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