The Ronnie Baker Brooks Band at last year's Blues Jam

By Charlie Englar
On June 10-11, the city of Greeley will play host to one of the biggest, most happening early summer backyard parties that the state of Colorado has to offer.
Entering its seventh year, the Greeley Blues Jam (GBJ) is quickly solidifying itself as one of the premier blues festivals for not just Colorado, but the entire country. The multiple forms of evidence for this claim come in the way of the line-up, two main stages, multiple side stages, various activities and the festival layout.
“We feel that we have booked our best line-up ever. Robert Randolph and the Family Band and the North Mississippi Allstar Duo are two of the biggest acts we’ve had. We certainly believe that they will attract both the traditional blues audience as well as the folks that are familiar with them as part of the ‘jam band’ genre,” said Al Bricker, one of the members of the volunteer, non-profit group that puts the festival together.
“The other national acts are very strong. Coco Montoya and The Nighthawks are strong Blues veterans who are proven crowd pleasers and Trampled Under Foot is arguably the finest young blues band on the scene. Dwayne Doopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers will open the show with high energy Louisiana sound,” continued Bricker.
Working under the umbrella of the Greeley Chamber of Commerce, the organizers also make a point to use a well-blended balance of local and lesser-known acts to compliment the national heavyweights.
“The organizing committee gets together and assembles a ‘wish list’ of who they would like to hear. We attempt to provide a good selection across the broad blues spectrum. We also want to showcase new and different acts each year that might not have been heard recently in the area […]. Over the years some of the most memorable moments have come from the great local talent that plays on the Back Porch stage,” said Bricker.
With such a solid and potent line-up, the organizers had the task of coming up with a distinctive and appealing way to bring the music of the festival to the patrons.
For Friday night, various streets will be closed as the 9th Street Plaza will play host to free musical acts. Once the music outside wraps up, roughly eight downtown bars and restaurants will be offering Colorado-based blues, also for no charge.
“It’s as close to Beale Street as you can get in Colorado,” said Bricker.
Saturday, the festival will move to Island Grove Regional Park, a multi-dimensional events complex and park located on 145 acres just north of down-town Greeley. The city/county-owned park offers, among other things, camping, RV parking and general admission tickets to the Island Grove Arena, where the main stages and food and drink vendors will be located. Saturday also marks the day when the national headliners will play their shows.
Furthermore, the organizers have laid 45,000 square feet of new Bluegrass Sod in the Island Grove Arena, and they encourage festivalgoers to bring their lawn chairs or, in Bricker’s words:
“Take off your shoes and dance till the cows come home.”
On top of the unique set-up of the festival, there will also be a “Blues 101 Stage” available all weekend, where adults, kids and anyone in between can learn about the roots of the blues while also being treated to a blues harp lesson.
When it comes down to it, Bricker hopes he and his crew are doing the best job they can to provide a blues festival that all people can enjoy and be proud of.
“I really believe that the community has come to expect a great line-up and a festival experience that is great fun and user and family friendly,” he said.
“Our goal and slogan tagline is ‘it ain’t nothin’ but a party.’ We work diligently all year long to plan and put together a festival that people will look forward to and have a great musical experience. You can come to the GBJ knowing that you will hear the best blues music available and have a great time with your friends and family,” continued Bricker.
Festivalgoers can purchase tickets and camping passes from greeleybluesjam.com and locally at the UCCC box office and at Mariposa Plants, Westlake Liquor, the Greeley Chamber of Commerce office, the Music Depot and at Spotlight Music in Fort Collins. Visit greeleybluesjam.com or for more information regarding musical lineup, lodging, tickets, camping passes and more.