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Blues Festival returns Oct. 4-6
Blues Art

This October marks the 22nd year for the award-winning Carolina Downhome Blues Festival in Camden. Produced and presented by the Fine Arts Center (FAC) of Kershaw County, this year’s event is scheduled for October 4 through 6 and will feature more than 23 artists in 13 venues over three days. Venues include the FAC’s Bassett Gallery, Shull Pavilion, Douglas-Reed House and Performing Arts Wing; The Venue on Broad; Gadgets of Camden; Steeplechase Sports Bar and Grill; Books on Broad; Davis & Sons Guitar Shop; Sam Kendall’s; ¡Salud! Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Lounge; La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant; the Kershaw County Farmers Market; and Grace Episcopal Church.

Sponsors of the 22nd Annual Carolina Downhome Blues Festival are the city of Camden, Heritage Chevrolet Buick GMC, First Citizens Bank, South Carolina ENT Allergy & Sleep Medicine, Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union, Senator Vincent Sheheen, and Breakthru Beverage. Media partners for 2018 are Grace Outdoor, Chronicle – Independent, KOOL 102.7/Startime 1590, The State Media Company, Camden Living Magazine and Community Broadcasters, LLC. Host hotels are the Comfort Inn & Suites and the Holiday Inn Express. The 22nd Annual Carolina Downhome Blues Festival is also made possible through funding provided by Kershaw County.

For 22 years, the Carolina Downhome Blues Festival has been known for its legendary blues artists from around the globe, performing in multiple venues in an “up-close and personal” atmosphere, as well as its “blues crawl” format. Deemed by Southern Living as a “destination weekend,” the Carolina Downhome Blues Festival attracts both blues aficionados as well as fans new to the blues music genre. All access armbands are $15 for Thursday, $20 for Friday and Saturday, and $40 for a Weekend Pass and will be available for purchase along with commemorative T-shirts, limited edition 22nd Annual Carolina Downhome Blues posters, and cups at the opening party; as well as at Blues venues throughout the weekend. A full schedule with location sites and times is available online. Please note that the schedule is subject to change without notice. For tickets or more information, please visit the FAC website at

Weekend Highlights

Thursday evening’s kick-off party will feature Beverly Guitar Watkins with the Shrimp City Slim Band, including John Clam Chop Etheridge, Dr. Pickup and Juke Joint Johnny. The party will be held at the Jim & Pat Watts Performing Arts Wing and Shull Pavilion on the FAC campus. Complimentary Pawley’s Island Brewing Company craft beer will be provided by beverage sponsor, Breakthru Beverage.

This year’s premiere Watts Arts Wing performance will feature the Keeshea Pratt Band (Houston) with a big-voiced blues lady and her horn-driven band on Saturday evening from 7 to 9 p.m. Keeshea won the Internationakl Blues Challenge in Memphis this year so come find out what the fuss is all about! A special Bassett Gallery Opening on Friday night from 5 to 6:30 p.m. will feature artists Peter Stitt and Lori Isom.

Nationally acclaimed The Lucky Losers (San Francisco) will perform at the Venue On Broad on Friday night from 9 p.m. to midnight. Internationally recognized artist and midwestern legend Travis Moonchild Haddix (Ohio) will perform one night only on Saturday night from 9 p.m. to midnight and brings over 50 years of blues experience!

Drink Small, known as the Blues Doctor, will make a special appearance this year as well. Drink Small, a South Carolina native, is the recipient of the National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Drink Small, a world-renowned legend in Blues was born in Bishopville in 1933. He began with gospel music, played the Apollo with the Spiritualaires as a young man and has been a Blues musician ever since. Drink Small will appear in one performance only at the FAC’s Watts Performing Arts Wing on Friday, October 5 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The Saturday morning performance at the Kershaw County Farmers Market featuring the music of Shrimp City Slim will take place during the Farmers Market’s Fall Festival. The Kershaw County Farmers Market is located at 906 Broad St. in downtown Camden.

An additional performance has been added for Sunday morning with Wes Mackey at Grace Episcopal Church at 10:30 a.m.


• Mark Arnold & John Hartness (South Carolina)

• Belmont & Jones (Florida)

• Blues Deluxe (SC)

• Blues Meets Girl (England/Ohio)

• Donald Ceasar (LA)

• Rusty Davis & Floyd Callen (SC & TX)

• Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones (Florida)

• Dr. Pickup (France)

• John Clam Chop Etheridge (Alabama)

• Travis Moonchild Haddix (Ohio)

• Hitman (Georgia)

• Willie Jackson & the Tybee Blues Band (Georgia)

• Juke Joint Johnny (Charleston)

• Jeff Liberty (SC)

• Robert Lighthouse (Sweden)

• John Long (Missouri)

• The Lucky Losers (San Francisco)

• Wes Mackey (Canada/SC)

• Keeshea Pratt Band (Houston)

• Shrimp City Slim (SC)

• Drink Small (SC)

• Tad Walters Band (NC)

• Beverly Guitar Watkins (Atlanta)

Armbands are available now online at, or by phone through the FAC office at 803-425-7676. Armbands may also be purchased at all sites over the 3-day weekend.

The FAC is located at 810 Lyttleton St., Camden, with office hours Monday through Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The FAC is funded in part by the Frederick S. Upton Foundation and the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding is provided by the city of Camden, Kershaw County, and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina along with donations from businesses and individuals.