Port Townsend Blues Performance Preview: Saturday, August 7

Saturday afternoon at the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival is a highlight of summer in Port Townsend. When the sun is out, we open the huge hangar doors of McCurdy Pavilion, letting audience members and music spill out on to Littlefield Green. It's simply a great day of music.

This year, we have an especially fun group of performers doing their best to take you down-home – country blues style.

Tickets for all Blues Festival performances are available online,
or by calling 800-746-1982.
Purchase Festival
Packages and Save!
Allfest Package: $74/$9; Mainstage

Saturday, August 7
Country BluesFest

McCurdy Pavilion | 1:30 pm |

  • The Ebony Hillbillies: One of the Last Black String Bands
  • Steve James: Roots and Blues via Austin, Texas
  • Nat Reese and Phil Wiggins: West Virginia Songster with Piedmont
  • The Jerron Paxton Band: Blues Guitar/ Piano Prodigy Joined By a
    Host of Festival Friends

Ebony Hillbillies
In Southern
states in the 19th century up to the ’20s and ’30s, it wasn’t uncommon
to hear a hoedown coming from a black man’s fiddle. At the time, music
was an interracial affair. White and black musicians seldom played
together, but they did share repertoires and traditions—Cajun waltzes,
Appalachian murder ballads and the blues.

New York’s Ebony
, a string
band composed entirely of African Americans,
diversifies the foot-stompin’, fiddle-sawin’ archaic country music
typically dominated by white players.
The 19th century string band sound produced
by a core of fiddle, banjo and guitar was a key element in the genesis
of blues music, and
seeing black musicians reclaim the sound that was once
theirs is refreshing. They p
rovide a great introduction to a largely forgotten
African American cultural legacy.

Steve James
Guitar goniff,
mandolin maven and roots/blues road veteran Steve James is known for his high energy performances and technical virtuosity.  Besides his many international tour
dates and critically hailed recordings, Steve is known to fans of "the
real" from his appearances on NPR's Morning Edition, A Prairie Home
Companion and many other syndicated broadcasts; also numerous books,
articles and lessons for Acoustic Guitar and instructional DVDs for

Nat Reese and Phil Wiggins
We’re extremely
honored that Nathaniel Hawthorne “Nat” Reese will make his first visit
to Port Townsend this summer. Mr. Reese was born March 4, 1924 in Salem, Virginia
to Thomas Walker Reese and Rosa Sylvester Caroline Wilson Reese. Thomas
was originally from Montgomery, Alabama, and Rosa from Bessemer, Alabama.
The family moved to West
when Nat was four, and it was in the
coal company towns that Nat was exposed to many itinerant musicians, and
many kinds of music. In 1939, Nat first met and performed with
multi-instrumentalist Howard Armstrong, who was traveling through and
playing the coal camp circuit from his home in Tennessee. The duo was to perform
together with increasing regularity over the next sixty-five years until
Armstrong’s death in 2003.

Nat will be performing with the great Phil Wiggins, who was Centrum's first Artistic Director for Blues.

Jerron Paxton
An amazing young musician based out of Los Angeles, Jerron Paxton plays guitar, banjo,
piano, harmonica, and washboard. While there are few young African
American musicians learning country blues in the communities from which
it arose, there is a definite increase in younger black musicians
learning and playing blues in much the same way that young white people
did forty years ago – by listening to recordings and personally
experimenting on their instrument. Jerron
is a supreme example of this, a young man from Watts with a huge repertoire of prewar blues and
rags, and an uncanny ability to channel the spirit of pre-war guitar and
piano blues music.