18th Annual Blues Festival hits Arlington


Guest post by Lauren Hiznay


Music is a great way to celebrate the warm weather and sunshine in DC – and so are free events. Coming up this weekend is Arlington’s 18th annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival, held on Saturday June 15t from 1 to 8 p.m. The event is free of charge, and residents of the greater DC area are welcome to enjoy the blues sound and local artistic talent.

This year, the headliner is one any DC-area music fan won’t want to miss, former Saturday Night Live Band frontman G.E. Smith. Smith is an Emmy award-winning blues/rock guitarist who led the SNL band for ten years. He also spent six years as the lead guitarist for Hall & Oates, and went on tour with the legendary Bob Dylan.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have G.E. Smith headlining the festival this year,” says Amy McWilliams, Associate Director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. “We really wanted to up the ante to celebrate the festival’s eighteenth year.”

The Blues Festival also features DC-based blues musicians Cathy Ponton King and B.G. & the Mojo Hands, plus accomplished and world-traveling artists Clarence “Bluesman” Turner and Chris Polk. Each musician will bring his or her own unique blues sound to Arlington’s Columbia Pike, with stylistic influences from swing, rockabilly, soul and jazz music.

Though the music is a major part of this event, there will be much more to see and do this Saturday. Local businesses and community groups will be giving away products, raffling off a guitar, hosting kids activities and serving lots of local food.

New to this year’s festival is a special partnership with Columbia Pike’s local artists, called “Art in Action.” Near the stage will be four live art installments. Audience members will be able to watch the artists create original works on three large canvases as the blues performances are occurring. A fourth canvas will be set up as a ‘community canvas.’

“Everyone in the community will have the opportunity to contribute to this special project and show what Columbia Pike means to them,” McWilliams said.

Check out the Columbia Pike Web site to find more information about the performance schedule, maps, directions, and parking. It’s going to be an awesome (and FREE!) local DC-area event.

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