Bilbao Blues Festival comes into the blues world

The first edition will be held on July 29, 30 and 31 at the Arenal although it will be extended to other city corners through parades and small format acoustic performances. The legendary singer and bass player Bob Stroger will receive recognition for his career and will perform alongside other blues legends such as Kim Johnson, Mike Avery, Kenny Smith, Billy Flynn, Piano Willie and Joey Saye.

The Bilbao City Council promotes this great event, which seeks to boost the cultural offer and consolidate it as one of the most outstanding meetings of the world music scene. The festival, that will take place outdoors, will feature more than twenty shows and activities, all of them free. For the Mayor of Bilbao, Juan Mari Aburto and the Festival director, Carlos Malles, it is “an exceptional opportunity for the city with a new activity that joins the main city events”.
Children will be able to enjoy interactive pedagogical shows and get started in this vocal and instrumental style.

Blues and summer will start to go hand in hand in Bilbao from this year. The Biscaian capital, historically linked to good music, will add to its annual “lineup”, the First International Blues Festival at the end of July that welcomes the disappeared Hondarribia Blues Festival. An important cultural venue that has been born thanks to Bilbao City Council, with the main goal to promote and dynamize the city and project this unique event in the Basque Country and worldwide. The heart of the town will beat with the rhythm of the most recognized blues bands, together with several local groups.

The First Bilbao Blues Festival will take place from 29 to 31 July and will feature more than twenty shows and free activities. One of the main confirmed shows is the Chicago All Stars, where Chicago blues legendary musicians will share stage. You will find first class blues stars like Bob Stroger, Kim Johnson, Mike Avery, Kenny Smith, Billy Flynn, Piano Willie and Joey Saye.

This first edition, that will be outdoors, also includes pedagogical shows for children, as well as a music conference devoted to women and blues. Although the main stage of the event will be at the Arenal, blues music will reach every city corner, in the path of New Orleans parades and dixieland bands.

For the Mayor of Bilbao, Juan Mari Aburto, “it is an exceptional opportunity to have such an important summer blues music event, which reinforces our policy to have this kind of events in our city. This first edition has lots of appealing items: outstanding artists, it is held outdoors, it’s free… and in the heart of Bilbao. A festival we hope will attract Bilbao people and many visitors. “It has been carefully prepared, it’s a top quality festival that will bring great international blues artist to Bilbao”.

“This first edition will be displayed in a format according to the needs of the special times we are living. Our aim is to consolidate this great event in the city in the coming years and get people feel it as their own”, explains Carlos Malles, director of Bilbao Blues Festival. The main objectives of the First Bilbao Blues Festival is to allow blues-loving audience to enjoy artists who are not regularly booked in European tours and let people discover a style which has been the basis of others more popular ones like rock, pop, indie, soul… audiences who are not yet familiar to it. “We want people to know this musical style. Everyone likes a blues show, even if you are not a blues regular consumer. Not only for the music, but also for the atmosphere that surrounds it,” says Malles.

Blues legend Bob Stroger (Hayti, Missouri, 1929), bass player and singer, will receive the “txapela” that will credit him as the first Bilbao Blues Festival Awarded artist.
In his long career, Stroger has been member of some of the most important bands of the second half of the twentieth century. He played with Otis Rush, Jimmy Rogers, Sunnyland Slim, Willie Mabon, Snooky Pryor, Eddie Taylor, Pinetop Perkins… In the 70’s and 80’s he belonged to the rhythm section of the American Folk Blues Festival tours together with Odie Payne and backed such great names like Carey Bell, Louisiana Red and Jimmy Rogers. In the 90’s he formed his own band playing gigs all over the planet.

The Festival promoters have received the highest international awards in terms of  promoting this musical style: BBSA Award as best promoter (Blues Behind the Scenes Award) granted by the European Blues Union in Azores in 2019 and, in 2015, the K.B.A. Award (Keeping The Blues Alive) for the best organization of an international festival, the highest worldwide recognition, awarded by The Blues Foundation in Memphis.

Undoubtedly, these are great news for all blues followers and general music lovers! Do not miss it!