The Phoenix Blues Society held the first official Blues Blast in February 1992 at the Mesa
Amphitheatre. Blues Blast '92 followed a tradition established by Nancy Wolter of the Mesa
Arts Center, who for several years had been presenting a smaller blues festival each
Blues Blast '92 also marked the first year of sponsorship by both Bud
Light (Hensley & Company) and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. The headliner
that year was singer Nappy Brown, who thrilled the crowd by leaving the stage to
walk through the seating area singing without the aid of a microphone. Also on that show
were harmonica player Snooky Pryor, guitarist Bob Margolin, Chico Chism's
Chicago Blues Band, The Hoodoo Kings, and Dave Andrews & The Method.
Blues Blast '93 is still fondly recalled by longtime Phoenix Blues Society board
members as one of those special times when everything came together just right. The
national acts that year were all Black Top Records artists, and the gathering of old
friends made for a special day of music. Appearing were Rod Piazza & The Mighty
Flyers, Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets featuring Sam Myers, Carol Fran
& Clarence Hollimon, and local stalwarts The Rocket 88s, Hans Olson,
Big Pete Pearson & The Blues Sevilles, The Carvin Jones Band, and The
Hot guitarists dominated the day at Blues Blast '94, as we brought to the Valley
of the Sun Elvin Bishop, Joe Louis Walker, and Guitar Shorty. Quite
frankly, Shorty stole the show with his stinging blues guitar licks and onstage
acrobatics. Phoenix area bands included Cold Shot and the Hurricane Horns, who
backed Guitar Shorty and hosted a tribute to late Phoenix music legend Bob Tate, and The
Chuck Hall Band.
Blues Blast '95 marked an expansion to
a two-day format with the
addition of the Saturday Night Dance Party. The festival featured a musically-diverse
lineup headlined by Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials, along with Keb' Mo', Miss
Lavelle White, Teddy Morgan & The Sevilles, and Coco Montoya. Locals
Hans Olson, The Carvin Jones Band, and Buddy Reed & The Rip It Ups
rounded out the bill.
1995's Saturday Night Dance Party featured The Loved Ones, William Clarke,
and Big Pete Pearson & The Blues Sevilles.
Blast '96 will forever be remembered for the wonderful performance by blues piano
legend Charles Brown. Also on the show were Angela Strehli with The Soul
Drivers, W.C. Clark, Rob Rio, The Sam Taylor Band featuring Heather
Hardy, and Phoenix favorites Big Nick & The Gila Monsters. 1996 also marked
the first year Best Buy participated as a major sponsor.
The Saturday Night Dance Party in '96 featured a killer guitar showdown as Little
Charlie & The Nightcats co-starred with Mike Morgan & The Crawl.
Opening the show was Lucius Parr & First Choice featuring George Bowman. The
guitar duel at the end of the night between Little Charlie Baty and Mike Morgan was alone
worth the price of admission.
Blues Blast '97 was highlighted by an appearance from British blues
master John Mayall. Also on the bill were local favorite Francine Reed, Chris
Cain, Texas blues cat Robert Ealey, The Rocket 88s, and Sistah
Headlining the Saturday Night Dance Party was the always-hot Rod Piazza & the
Mighty Flyers. Their L.A. buddy Johnny Dyer also appeared, as did The
Hoodoo Kings and local legend Chico Chism.
The zydeco sounds of Terrance Simien & The Mallet Playboys brought Blues
Blast '98 to an exciting conclusion.Other acts on the bill included Smokin'
Joe Kubek Band featuring B'Nois King , Big Jack Johnson & The Oilers, The
Johnny Rawls Revue, Bad News Blues Band, and Sweet Jeffrey &
In '98 we moved the Saturday Night Dance Party back into the more intimate confines of
the Superstition Ballroom, and swingin' sax legend Big Jay McNeely had everyone
hoppin'. Also appearing were The Rocket 88s and Phonoroyale.
Blues Blast '99 was a celebration for the Phoenix Blues Society's 10th
anniversary, and the event turned into a family reunion atmosphere, with many of our best
friends and favorite acts from past Blues Blasts making return appearances. The acts
included Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets featuring Sam Myers, Guitar
Shorty, Carol Fran & Clarence Hollimon, Roy Gaines, Bob
Margolin, Johnny Dyer, Big Nick & The Gila Monsters, Hans
Olson, Chico Chism, and Lisa Otey. Longtime blues society members
hailed Blues Blast '99 as the best ever!
The final Saturday Night Dance Party, again held in the Superstition Ballroom, featured
Roy Gaines, Midnite Blues, and Two Flavor Blues featuring George
Bowman & Scotty Spenner. The Board of the Phoenix Blues Society elected to
discontinue this event after 1999 in lieu of performances at area blues clubs.
Blues Blast 2000 was regarded as one of the hottest festivals
yet, headlined by the ever-popular Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials.
Also on the bill were fellow Chicago veterans Eddie Shaw & the
Colorado-based songstress Nina Storey,
as well as Bob Corritore's All-Star Blues Revue featuring
Henry Gray, Kid Ramos, Chico Chism, King Karl, Johnny Rapp and Paul Thomas.
Arizona acts were George Bowman, Lucius Parr & Nightlife and Cold
Shott & the Hurricane Horns featuring Small Paul.
Blast 2001 was highlighted by an appearance from one of the finest
harmonica players of our day in Kim Wilson, accompanied by his
blues ensemble. Almost stealing the show was Northern California-based
singer Sista Monica. Also on the bill were Jimmy Morello &
the JSP All Stars featuring Carol Fran, Sistah Blue, Stefan
George, and the Cadillac
Mike Moses Blues Band.
Blast 2002 featured legendary blues singer / guitarist Little
Milton, plus appearances by Joe Louis Walker, The Delgado
Brothers with Juke Logan, Cold Shott & the Hurricane Horns
featuring Small Paul, Honeyboy Dupree and the Smokehouse Players,
and Scotty Spenner.
Blast 2003 is now being hailed as the best show in the history of the
event. Appearing were The Holmes Brothers, Tommy Castro Band,
Trudy Lynn, Roy Gaines, Bad News Blues Band, The
Rhythm Room All-Stars with Mr. Boogie Woogie, Midnite Blues,
and Paris James.
Blast 2004 was the first (and hopefully last) time that we faced
inclement weather on the day of the show, with colder than usual
temperatures and some mid-afternoon light rain. But the show went on,
and just when we thought the rest of the day would have to be moved
indoors, the clouds parted and the sun returned. The star of the show
was Otis Clay, who never slowed down his show during the
rainfall. Also on the bill were Tab Benoit, Johnny Rawls with
guest Destini Rawls, Sistah Blue, Buzz and the Soul
Senders, and Lisa Otey and Kathleen Williamson.
There was no doubt in anyone's mind who was the star of the show at Blues
Blast 2005, as singer Bettye Lavette knocked out everyone with
her dynamic performance that will be hard to top! Top-notch performances
were also turned in by Little Charlie and the Nightcats and
Michael Burks, as well as local artists Sistah Blue, Jim
Glass Band, and Hans Olson.
Blues Blast 2006 was dedicated to the memory
of PBS member Randy Rogers, who died in a hiking accident at the Grand
Canyon the previous year. Appearing were several of Randy's favorite bands.
The lineup on this incredible show included Rod Piazza & the Mighty
Flyers, Tommy Castro Band, Nora Jean Bruso, Tom Walbank
& the Ambassadors, Sam Taylor and Heather Hardy, and Danny
Blues Blast 2007
took place on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with PBS favorite Sista Monica
headlining the show. Also appearing were Albert Cummings,
Zac Harmon, Big Nick & the Gila Monsters, Tommy Dukes
and the Soul Kings, and Mikel Lander.
Blues Blast 2008 was the first time the
main event was held on a Saturday afternoon, and it was a big success.
Appearing were Walter Trout, Deanna Bogart, Harper,
Eden Brent, Chuck Hall, Delta Highway, Big Daddy D &
the Dynamites, and Soulcatcher.
Blues Blast 2009 was headlined by former
Phoenix native Janiva Magness. Also on the bill were Omar & the
Howlers, The Juke Joint Duo, The Sugar Thieves, Kathy
Mabry, and Kevin Casenhiser.
Blues Blast 2010 featured the theme
"Doing the Blues Blast Bop," with participation from the Arizona
Lindy Hop Society. The show was headlined by Chicago ensemble Big James
Montgomery & The Chicago Playboys. Also appearing were Candy Kane,
The Insomniacs, The Jump Back Brothers, and Arthur
Migliazza & Tom Walbank.
Blues Blast 2011 battled the raindrops
throughout the day, but it didn't dampen the spirits of the die hard fans
there to watch The Tommy Castro Band, Deanna Bogart,
Trampled Under Foot, Cold Shott & the Hurricane Horns, and