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Blues festival draws great acts and large crowds
Blues Festival - Hollerers
Hollerers bassist and guitarist John Stewart jams at the Old Towne Tavern during a Carolina Downhome Blues Festival performance. - photo by Simone T. Owens

Friday and Saturday evening, restaurants and bars in downtown Camden filled with Carolina Downhome Blues Festival goers anxious to hear Blues music performed by different artists and bands ranging from South Carolina to Australia.

The majority of performances took place Friday and Saturday at venues on Broad Street with a couple of performances at the Kershaw County Farmers Market and the Fine Arts Center (FAC) of Kershaw County on Thursday and Saturday. All venues were designated by Carolina Downhome Blues Festival posters and stands.

Inside those venues were crowds of people either bobbing their heads, dancing or sitting calmly as they enjoyed their dinners and the live shows.

Swedish native Robert Lighthouse was among the first performers Friday night. He performed a three-hour show at the Old Armory Steakhouse & Seafood restaurant. Lighthouse also performed Saturday at the FAC and The Venue on Broad where he moved audiences to their feet with his smooth vocals, and enchanting guitar and harmonica playing skills.

Repeat performers also included Shrimp City Slim, Norman Taylor, Little Bit a Blues, John Long, Bill Howl-n-Madd Perry & the Perry Family Band, Freddie Vanderford & Brandon Turner, the Billy Thompson Band and the St. Louis Blues with Jim Wheeler. All repeat performers rotated between Sam Kendall’s, Old Armory Steakhouse, Salud!, Hifalutin, 833 Broad Street, The Venue on Broad and Old Towne Tavern. John Long was the only artist to make an additional performance at Books on Broad.

“My favorite venue was the bookstore,” Long said. “It was an intimate encounter, and I enjoyed playing up close to my audience. Overall, I enjoyed Camden. I have never experienced so much warmth.”

Blues musician and singer Franc Robert traveled from Florida to perform in this year’s Blues festival, making it his second appearance at the Downhome Festival in two years. He performed at three different venues Friday and Saturday, and said he was pleased with the gracious greetings from people around town.

“Camden was great from the moment we drove into town,” Robert said. “We were made to feel very welcome everywhere we went! I especially enjoyed the Carolina Café, where we were made to feel almost like family! Meeting lots of people all over town (my wife even did a bit of antiquing), we were greeted with the same genuine warmth wherever we went. We hope to return to Camden again in the near future; we truly had a great time!”

Australia Natives Harper & Midwest Kind, Jeffrey Broussard & the Creole Cowboys, The Hollerers, Floyd Wilson & the Electrophonic Blues Band, Hitman and The Hartness & Charles Project performed one show either Friday or Saturday.