Get ready to kick out the jams this Saturday, July 16 at the Rhode Island Blues Fest at Mulligan’s Island Golf and Entertainment Complex in Cranston. The festival is followed a day later by the Nashville RI Country Fest at the same location.
Both festivals are family-friendly and include food trucks, beer tents, and a new arrangement with Cranston’s Park Theatre to move the festival indoors in case of rain. Good news, the forecast looks great, so the back up plan will likely be unesssasary this year.
We spoke to event organizer Michael Friedman, owner of Mulligan’s Island to learn more. He’s excited about the diverse acts playing the festival including headliner Victor Wainright and the Train.
“Certainly Victor is a highlight, he’s a Grammy-nominated international touring artist,” noted Friedman. “He brings a tremendous amount of energy and name recognition to the Blues Fest.”
We also spoke to trumpeter Doug Woolverton, a member of Wainright’s band. He’s a busy guy, playing shows with the Chicago tribute band Beginnings and hosting his own Monday night gig at Fifth Element in Newport.
“I’m so happy to be working again and I’m happy that Victor is going to be in the area,” said Woolverton. “We’ve played several times in Rhode Island and it’s just been off the hook. Friday we’re in Atlantic City, Saturday we’re in Rhode Island, and Sunday north of Boston. We have a week off, and then we do seven more dates around New England through early August.”
“People love him, and the Train, which is the six of us, we are just a powerhouse of energy on stage,” said Woolverton. “I think Victor’s been here enough that people know his name and they’re going to be excited to have him here in Rhode Island. He always draws a crowd everywhere we go. We’re very fortunate.”
“We’ll be playing a lot from our last two records. Be ready for a slamming funky boogie woogie blues set. It’s a set of total energy,” added Woolverton.
There’s a local favorite kicking off the event at 1PM. “We’re leading off with Neal and the Vipers, he’s beloved on the local blues music scene. He was the first musician to play at our first Blues fest,” explains Friedman.
Along with Wainright, the festival will feature an up-and-coming blues artist. “Robin Kapsalis is coming up from Baltimore. One of our goals is to bring people in from outside of our local blues scene. We’re excited to have her and her band play,” said Friedman.
From modest beginnings in a few years ago, the festivals have grown to become summer tradition for many fans. “These festivals are very grassroots, you start with a small group and they have a good time, and they tell their friends, and the next year they tell their friends and it continues to build,” says Friedman.