Kent Blues Fest is July 15, with acts from around the region

Erin Nicole Neal

Kent, it’s time to get your jam on.

The 14th Annual Kent Blues Fest presented by Wayside Furniture takes place Saturday, July 15, offering free live music by more than 40 acts at 27 venues throughout Kent. The all-day music extravaganza starts at 1 p.m. and goes until after midnight at restaurants, bars, bookstores and outdoor parks.

Patrons can enjoy a wide variety of blues and roots music, including old-school and contemporary blues from veterans and newcomers, soulful and danceable R&B, soaring vocals, country blues, classic harmonica tunes, classic rock blues and, of course, guitars galore.

A few of the featured performers are:

– Eclectic Cleveland band Erin Nicole Neal & The Chill Factors will explore blues, rock, soul and R&B.

– Several acts will make their Kent blues festival debuts this year, including Robbie Allan and the Loveshack, Steve Roberts, Kristine Jackson, Johnson Walker Blues Band, and Max Stak & the Rizztones.

– The Eric Clapton tribute band Evolution features hits from The Yardbirds, The Blues Breakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek & the Dominos, and Clapton’s solo career.

– The Numbers Band, Akron/Kent’s legendary experimental blues rock band.

– Austin Walkin’ Cane, who kicks off the festival at 1 p.m.

“We are thrilled to be marking the 14th anniversary of this event thanks to the support of the Northeast Ohio community, our sponsors, venues, artists and media partners,” said Mike Beder of the Crooked River Arts Council, which produces the festival. “The Kent Blues Fest is our flagship event, and it’s the biggest music festival we do.”

The complete schedule, artist bios, venue map and much more can be found at

The Crooked River Arts Council is a nonprofit that showcases and supports arts and culture in Kent. The council also produces the Kent Rocks Festival, Kent BeatleFest, and American Roots — Kent’s Americana, bluegrass and country music festival.

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Tom Hardesty is a Portager sports columnist. He was formerly assistant sports editor at the Record-Courier and author of the book Glimpses of Heaven.