Thursday, April 25, 2019

2019 Hot August Blues Lineup Announced

The 30th Edition of Kentucky's longest running music festival, the Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival will feature some past favorites, along with some national stars!

The festival begins Thursday, August 22nd, with the traditional free show on the lawn of the Kenlake State Park Lodge. Last year's Blues Jam was so popular, they're going to do it again with local favorites Adam and the H Bombs and 2 Years Wasted hosting the jam from 6-10pm

Friday, August 23rd, the festival moves over to the amphitheater as the gates open at 3, and music begins at 6. Friday will feature three of Harper Guitars' top guns, beginning with John Sutton. Sutton is known from Western Kentucky to South Florida for his free-wheeling performances which fill up the dance floors. Sutton will be followed by a past favorite, Alonzo Pennington and the Xtraordinary Gentlemen. Pennington is a multi thumb-picking national champion as well as semi-finalist at Memphis' International Blues Challenge. Finishing up Friday is Jonathon Long. The former Guitar Center King of the Blues is coming off a breakout year in which his self-titled CD, produced by Samantha Fish, drew much critical acclaim and landed him on the radar of Blues guitar guru Joe Bonamassa, who signed Long to play alongside him on his Mediterranean Keeping the Blues Alive Cruise. In fact, Long's first appearance following the cruise, will be Hot August!

Saturday, the gates open at10AM, and the music starts at noon with Nightfish, one of the original bands from the first Hot August Blues Festival in 1990. Nightfish may well be the regions longest tenured band, having performed continuously for the past 39 years. Nightfish will be followed by The Gough-Martin Blues Band from South Union, Kentucky. Next up is The Beat Daddys. The former Malaco recording artists return to Hot August due to popular demand. The Beat Daddys will be followed by another former Guitar Center King of the Blues, Boscoe France, who will be making his Hot August debut after showcasing his six string skills around the nation and the world. Louisiana's legendary Big Al and the Heavyweights are next, returning to Hot August Blues for the first time since around the year 2000.

The festival brings a hot dose of Memphis Rhythm and Blues next with The Memphis All-Stars. They played with a who's who of Memphis music royalty, including Al Green with a legacy that goes back to the heyday of Memphis music with Stax Records. Speaking of Memphis, the next artist received a brass note on Beale Street just this past year as recognition for her contributions to Memphis' rich musical heritage. The Hot August Blues Festival is proud to bring back, by popular demand, The Reba Russell Band. Finally, fans will want to stick around for the evenings final act, Chicago's undisputed Queen of Blues Rock, and one of the finest slide players in the world, Joanna Connor. Her Youtube videos have gone viral and racked up millions of views just this year, and her marathon shows at one of Chicago's most famous Blues clubs, Kingston Mines are legendary!

The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival is set for Thursday through Saturday, August 22-24 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky. Discount tickets are available at For a limited time, combo tickets for both Friday and Saturday are only $25, but at the gate will be $45. Patrons will be allowed to bring in their own coolers for the event, for a $15 fee, which covers both Friday and Saturday of the event.

Organizations benefiting from this year's Hot August Blues Festival include the Marshall County Rescue Squad, which receives 100% of it's funding from donations and fundraisers., as well as The Shriners, who will be operating festival shuttles with all tips and proceeds going to the Shriners' Childrens' Hospitals and the Knights of Columbus.

Monday, August 13, 2018

YUM YUM! Our Food at the Hot August Blues Festival!

The Blues and good food go hand in hand and it's a tradition at the Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival.  This year. we're making an effort to present a wide variety of delicious food, based on what festival goers have told us they have enjoyed the most, and/or requested!

Tilford's Q Krew  was a big hit at last year's festival.  From the pulled pork sandwiches which would melt in your mouth, to the award winning ribs, and more.  We had so many requests for Tilford's Q Krew to come back to the festival, we had to invite them back.  They've long been favorites at Paducah, KY's BBQ on the River and over the year's have  rows and rows of trophies to show for it!

At last year's Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival, we got several requests to bring back a food vendor from past festivals, and after tracking them down, we're happy so say Orleans Catering of Lafayette, Louisiana is coming back, bringing their "real deal" cajun favorites,such as crawfish mac n cheese, fried pork chops, shrimp baskets, red beans and rice and chicken wings!

Following last year's festival, several of you told us you wanted "healthier" options for food so we're bringing in Uncle Ted's Just Dang Good Food, featuring veggie and vegan options, as well as grilled chicken, in addition to other fare, including burgers and other sandwiches!  They've got something for everyone and it's all delicious!

No matter how hot  the Blues and the weather get, you can cool off with the coldest ice cream ever made: Dippin' Dots! The favorite ice cream at Major League Baseball Ballparks and Theme Parks around the country will also be available once again at this year's Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival!

Cowboy Kettle Korn brings festival favorites with their kettle korn, and also lemon shake ups! 

At this year's Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival, bring your appetite for great food in addition to your appetite for great Blues!

There will NOT be a beer garden at this year's festival.  Instead, patrons will be allowed to bring their own coolers with a one time, $15 fee per cooler brought into the amphitheater area.  The proceeds from the fee will be shared with the Marshall County Rescue Squad, which received no government funding and relies totally on donations and fundraisers for it's funding. The one time fee covers both Friday and Saturday at the amphitheater.

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Delta Hurricane, Larry McCray, Headed to Hot August Blues Festival

If contemporary blues has a long-term future in the 21st century, it's very likely that guitarist Larry McCray will continue to play a recurring role in its ongoing development. Beginning with this 1990 debut album, Ambition, and continuing into the new millennium, McCray has signaled both a strong commitment to the tradition and the vision to usher the genre in exciting new directions.

McCray's first influence on guitar was none other than his sister, Clara, who toured regionally around Arkansas with her own combo, the Rockets. Clara never got to record her Freddie King-styled blues for posterity -- but her little brother has at least partially made up for that omission. Larry followed Clara up to Saginaw, Michigan in 1972. She turned him on to the joys of the three Kings (B.B., Freddie, and Albert), Albert Collins, and Magic Sam, and Larry added superheated rock licks (à la Jimi Hendrix and the Allman Brothers) to his arsenal as he began playing the local circuit with his brothers Carl on bass and Steve on drums.

Working on General Motors' assembly line occupied a great deal of Larry McCray's time after he finished high school. But he eventually found enough free hours to put together Ambition for Point Blank in a Detroit friend's basement studio. The stunning debut set was a convincing hybrid of blues, rock, and soul, McCray combining the interrelated idioms in sizzling fashion. Suddenly, the stocky young guitarist was touring with labelmate Albert Collins.

His 1993 Point Blank encore, Delta Hurricane, was a slicker affair produced by veteran British blues maven Mike Vernon that McCray much preferred to his homemade debut. He followed Delta Hurricane with Meet Me at the Lake in 1996 and Born to Play the Blues in 1998. The bluesman has remained active in the 2000s with albums including 2001's Believe It and Blues Is My Business, 2006's Live on Interstate 75 (his first live outing, recorded in Detroit), and the eponymous Larry McCray in 2007.

Larry McCray's been recognized with an Orville H. Gibson Male Blues Guitarist of the Year award as well as the Top Guitarist prize in International Blues Matters' 2014 writer's poll. But there's a part of McCray that has a rock 'n' roll beat too, and he's following that on his latest release, The Gibson Sessions.

It's a 12-song set featuring some of his personal favorites by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Seger, ZZ Top, Gregg Allman, the Doobie Brothers, the Rolling Stones, Creendence Clearwater Revival and others, with help from six-string brethren such as Allman Brothers Band co-founder Dickey Betts, Derek Trucks (Allman Brothers Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Eric Clapton), Los Lobos' David Hidalgo and Jimmy Herring (Aquarium Rescue Unit, Allman Brothers Band, The Dead, Phil Lesh & Friends). "The blues is my favorite, for sure. I get more out of it, feeling-wise, but I've always been a rock 'n' roll fan and I've always tried to write music that was rock 'n' roll friendly," McCray explains, "I always try to move forward and remember where I came from, and this album is a way to do these songs I love and maybe get them heard by people who like that music already, but do it in my own way so I can have some of my personality and
self-identity within the music."

"I was a little nervous to do all these classic tunes, and especially classic hits, because you open the door up to 'Who the hell does this guy think he is?' " McCray notes with a laugh. "But I'll tell ya, any of the alterations I've done feel natural to me. They're things I've always heard in my head when I listened to these songs. I think when you hear them they fit. I thought Jimi Hendrix was white up until I was about 19, 20; I just figured he was a white rock 'n' roller, y'know? When I found out he was a black dude, it turned my whole world upside down."

Britain's Q magazine trumpeted McCray's "powerhouse energy" and "an elegance and technical prowess that will delight most exacting blues and rock aficionado," while Collins and Eric Clapton publicly stated their praise. The presence of The Gibson Sessions' top-shelf guests is yet another indication of the regard his playing peers have for McCray. "I've been on stage with all those guys over the years. We've had many encounters," he says. "You've never seen me have guests on a record. I've never called in favors, never asked for anything other than camaraderie. But this record seemed like the right time to do it. I'm at a point and a time in my life where I'm old enough and I've been out there and established long enough that it's not like I'm just cashing in." The Gibson Sessions certainly offers a different look at McCray's music and opens new artistic vistas. "For me, success is being accepted and recognized by your peers and having some people out there who want to hear the music, and I don't need a whole lot of everything to be happy. I feel comfortable with who I am” For Larry McCray, the Blues is his business, and business is good!

The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival is set for Thursday through Saturday, August 23-25 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky. Discount tickets are available at

Charities which will benefit from this year's Hot August Blues Festival include The Shriners, who will be operating festival shuttles with all tips and proceeds going to the Shriners' Childrens' Hospitals, and the Knights of Columbus.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Hot August Blues Festival: Frequently Asked Questions!

Do you have some questions about this year's festival? We bet others have the same question!  E-mail your question by filling out the form HERE on the CONTACT PAGE, and we'll answer your question, PLUS post the question and answer here so others can see!

How much are tickets and where can I get them?
Tickets are ON SALE NOW online!   If you order online before August 1st, they will be only $30 for BOTH FRIDAY and SATURDAY! After that ticket prices will go up. At the gate, ticket prices will be, Friday $20, and Saturday $35 and $45 for BOTH DAYS.  Children 12 and under, accompanied by an adult will be admitted at no charge.   CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS! 
Tickets are on sale locally at The Wine Cellar  and Spirits locations in Draffenville, Benton and Murray, KY, Music One and Murray Transit in Murray, KY and The Moonshine Company in Paducah, KY.

Will there be a beer garden?  Can I bring a cooler?
There will NOT be a beer garden at the festival as state law dictates no outside drinks may be brought in, if there is a beer garden. Instead, patrons will be allowed to bring their own coolers into the amphitheater area.  There will be a $15 fee, per cooler, which is good for both days, Friday and Saturday, August 24 and 25. The fee will be shared with the Marshall County Rescue Squad, which receives no government funding and is totally reliant on donations and fundraisers for it's funding. There is no set size limit on the coolers, however the festival reserves the right to charge extra in the case of an excessively large cooler. The festival just asks everyone to use common sense and their better judgement.

What is allowed and what is not allowed in the amphitheater?
No glass bottles, no beach balls and no pets are allowed.  By law, service animals are allowed.

The last several years, my friends and I have purchased a table with an umbrella at the top of the amphitheater.  Will we be able to do that again this year and if so, how much?
There are 10 tables with umbrellas at the top of the amphitheater.  Five are for our corporate sponsors, and the other 5 can be purchased by those who want preferred seating. They'll each have 6 chairs and come with 6 wristbands for both Friday and Saturday, PLUS the cooler fee is WAIVED for those with the VIP Party Pass!  THEY ARE SOLD OUT FOR 2018!  

My band would like to play at the Kenlake Hot August Blues.  How do we apply?
The bands for this year have already been chosen, but in the late fall, our committee will begin looking at bands for next year!  Please feel free to submit at the time by clicking HERE and including a link to your band's EPK.

I would like to be a vendor at the Kenlake Hot August Blues.  How do I apply?
The vendors for this year have already been chosen, but we will be closely examining how our vendors do, and how they go over with the crowd, asking questions such as, "Do we have enough vendors?, Do we need different varieties of food?"  Just like the bands, feel free to contact us in the late fall and inquire about being a vendor for next year, by clicking HERE!

Will there be a shuttle service from the lodge, campground and Aurora to the Amphitheater? 
YES! The Shriners will provide shuttle service, with ALL TIPS going to the Shriners Children's Hospital!  There will be designated shuttle stops to get on and off.  The shuttle will begin running at 3PM Friday, and 10AM Saturday and continue running until everyone is returned to the campground, cabins, lodge or other motels in Aurora.  If you're coming to the festival, be sure to have a designated driver or take advantage of the shuttle service as it is there for the safety and convenience of everybody! If you are coming from Murray, KY, you can reserve a ride with Murray Calloway County Transit at (270) 753-9725.  The transit will provide you and your friends with a ride to the festival from anywhere in Murray and Calloway County, and then back!

What happens if it rains?
In case of rain, the show WILL GO ON. The show will move inside the indoor tennis center near the top of the amphitheater.

Big Mike Griffin Once Again Returns To Hot August Blues Festival

At the very first Hot August Blues Festival in 1990 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky, Big Mike Griffin was the headliner. By the end of the show, he had captivated the audience completely, and soon a tradition was born.

This year, 29 years later, Big Mike returns again, just as he has almost every year. Big Mike appears Saturday, August 25th at the Hot August Blues Festival at Kenlake.

Towering overhead at 6'10", you could easily make a case that there's no bigger blues musician than Big Mike Griffin.

Big Mike comes from a proud tradition of journeyman blues musicians. He has performed on stages across North America and Europe; every place from juke joints and roadhouses to Turner Field and Riverfront Stadium.

Big Mike has also been a biker for more than 30 years. His love of both music and motorcycles spawned a new type of Motormusic that has been widely accepted as a new and exciting form of Blues/Rock.

Born and raised in Lawton, Oklahoma, Big Mike was introduced to music at an early age. "My Dad played so there was always a guitar or fiddle laying around the house. It seems like I've been playing as long as I've been alive." Later, he began listening to blues artists like T-Bone Walker, Paul Butterfield, and Mike Bloomfield. His blues education was further enhanced by late night highway trips to Texas to catch legends like Freddie King, Albert King, and Albert Collins.

Big Mike started his career as a professional musician in the clubs and honky tonks in southern Oklahoma and north Texas. He haunted the blues clubs in Wichita Falls and the Dallas- Fort worth area early on, as the blues music that came from that area really spoke to him. He formed friendships with many great bluesmen of the area. Jimmy Vaughn and his brother Stevie were acquaintances as well as peers.

Blues was his first love musically, but to stay working in the music business, he also played country music. In the late 70's he formed the Broken Spoke band. The band's success led him to share the stage with such artists as Hank Williams Jr., George Strait, John Connely, Johnny Rodriguez, Barbra Fairchild and David Frizzell to name just a few. His relationship with those artists ultimately led to his relocation to Nashville. At that time, through his good friend, Warren Haynes, Mike was hired by David Allan Coe to play guitar in his band. He toured with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, George Jones and Neal Young, just to name a few.

At the end of his tenure with Mr.Coe, Mike left to form a blues band. He was signed to Malaco records in 1992 and released three CD's on that label. In 1997, long time friend and fellow biker John Tubbs partnered with Mike to form Chrome Link Records, which is based in Lawton, with an office in Nashville. They currently have 8 titles on the label.

In 2008, Big Mike starred in the award-winning documentary "Iron City Blues", which chronicled his creation of a blues song about the most notorious town in the South. This film received rave reviews in the press, from Biker Magazine, to the European edition of Easy Riders Magazine. In 2014, Big Mike was inducted into the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame.

Today, he continues to tour the country, sharing his unique form of the blues with long- time friends and a new generation of fans.

The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival is set for Thursday through Saturday, August 23-25 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky. Discount tickets are available at

Charities which will benefit from this year's Hot August Blues Festival include The Shriners, who will be operating festival shuttles with all tips and proceeds going to the Shriners' Childrens' Hospitals, and the Knights of Columbus.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Miranda Louise, The Sweetheart of the Blues, Set for Hot August Blues

Rarely does one find as devoted and sincere an interpreter of the Blues as Miranda Louise. Miranda is set to appear Saturday, August 25th at the Hot August Blues Festival at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky.

As a master and demo studio musician based out of Nashville, she's appeared on more than 70 albums and become a well-known and much beloved mainstay of the Southern Blues scene. Miranda sums it up like this, “Why the blues? Blues is the only real thing I've ever experienced. It's the realist thing there is. Blues and love.”

Miranda Louise's discography reads like a 'who's who' of the blues. She was in three bands with the legendary Warren Haynes of Allman Brothers and Government Mule fame. Miranda says, “Singing with him long enough, just makes you a better singer.” Miranda's studio credits also include the great Johnny Neel and former Allman Brothers' guitarist, Jack Pearson.

You'll recognize Miranda's voice backing Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar on Chicago legend A.C. Reed's album I'm In The Wrong Business. “He was terrific. What a horn player and what a singer. What a great guy and what a great musician.” That album spent 8 weeks at the top of the charts. She also spent time as the lead vocalist for one of Southern Rock's most storied bands, Grinderswitch.

Miranda's song, “Face In My Dreams” placed second in the National Billboard Songwriter Competition and was later recorded by Dionne Warwick and Phillip Michael Thomas. Miranda's CD “Face In My Dreams” did pretty good too, scoring high on the charts for Beach Music, a type of shuffle popular with devotees of the Carolina Shag scene!

Miranda's latest releases, Delta 3 and an acoustic album, Play Americana Blues have both been enthusiastically received and piling up airplay.

Onstage, she packs a punch with her powerful voice which has graced stages across the United States, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean. She also has some screen credits, including singing and acting in the soap opera, Music City Blues, and acting in the just released feature film, Soldier's Joy. Prior to that, she was featured in Iron City, along with Big Mike Griffin and his band.

The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival is set for Thursday through Saturday, August 23-25 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky. Discount tickets are available at

Charities which will benefit from this year's Hot August Blues Festival include The Shriners, who will be operating festival shuttles with all tips and proceeds going to the Shriners' Childrens' Hospitals, and the Knights of Columbus.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Ivas John Returns To The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival

No doubt, if there was a show stealer at last year's Hot August Blues Festival at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky, it was Ivas John. John returns this year, by popular demand, on Saturday, August 25th.

If in the soul of a true artist, lay the marriage of opposites, then an exemplary artist does Ivas John make. A throwback and an innovator. A musician with local roots and worldly chops. A purist who can play the dirtiest blues. Ivas John is a musician’s musician. He has a style of effortless authenticity that is both a breath of fresh air and a link to days of yore, imbued with the same sense of timelessness as the shores of the Mississippi River he now calls home.

Ivas John’s story is as unique as his music. Born as a first generation Lithuanian American into a music-loving Chicago home, his earliest influences came from European folk dancing, melodies hammered out on the family piano, and playing trumpet in the school band. His working class father was a truck driver by day, and by night appeared in productions for the local opera company and was a regular fixture on the vibrant folk and blues scene in late 60’s Chicago. Long before picking up the guitar, taking to the country, and becoming the public figure Ivas John, his musical future was being shaped, at least in part, by the living room record player.

And in another way, by a deep appreciation for history, language, and tradition instilled by immigrant parents. In his teens, Ivas got hooked on blues guitar and began making forays to the inner city clubs to get a fix. By means of jamming along with the available record collections, and the sporadic tutelage of his older brother, he learned to play.

In the early years of his career, John was known exclusively for playing the electric blues with finesse, and a maturity beyond his years. While away at Southern Illinois University, he earned a place in the local music scene, and began backing blues luminaries three times his age with his in demand guitar work. It was there he connected with renowned blues singer Big Larry, a consummate entertainer and brother to Big Twist of the famous Alligator records Mellow Fellows band. These years of precious experience gave Ivas a real taste of the working musician’s life…in all its glory and hardship. Being both young and hungry, nothing could’ve been better at the time. Playing every weekend and taking classes during the days, his insatiable quest for music took him through the halls of early jazz, swing, ragtime, country blues, and slide guitar. As his understanding of music blossomed, so did the desire to put his own band together. With the music community on his side, Ivas developed a voice tucked away since childhood folk singing and put together an experienced band that over the last decade has grown into one of the regions busiest and most beloved roots music acts. A new side of himself emerged writing, arranging, and performing original music and the transition from college student to full time working musician was seamless.

The early years of the Ivas John Band were productive ones. Well over 1000 shows and four albums between 2007 and 2012 helped build his name and connect the dots to new markets, including a residency and long standing relationship with the legendary St. Louis club BBs Jazz, Blues & Soups. As his star kept rising and audiences kept coming back for more, the musical evolution continued as well. With the shifting of his musical mind came the urge to collaborate and record with other excellent regional players and also indulge creative curiosities in the banjo, lap steel, and harmonica. During this time Ivas moved from the woods to the river. In historic Cape Girardeau, MO the roll of the Mississippi towed him under the influence of past masters in folk and country music. Ivas studied the world of Woody Guthrie, Jimmie Rodgers, Doc Watson, The Delmore Brothers, and Balladeers like Tom Paxton and Gordon Lightfoot.

Ivas’ most recent project, Good Days A Comin, put him on the map in the world of acoustic music. Coming together over a shared vision of what pure folk and country blues music should sound like, Ivas and producers Gary and Noah Gordon made it their business to assemble an A team of supporting acoustic musicians and get things in motion. Since the release, which Billboard magazine called a “Slam Dunk!”, the album went to the top of the pile for roots music DJ’s and received a great deal of critical acclaim.

The Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival is set for Thursday through Saturday, August 23-25 at Kenlake State Park in Aurora, Kentucky. Discount tickets are available at

Charities which will benefit from this year's Hot August Blues Festival include The Shriners, who will be operating festival shuttles with all tips and proceeds going to the Shriners' Childrens' Hospitals, and the Knights of Columbus.