The winners of the Grammy music awards: Keb ‘Mo’, Albert Lee, as well as Shemekia Copeland, Toronzo Cannon, JJ Grey & Mofro and Polish cult band Dżem took lead in 36th edition of world’s biggest indoor blues festival – Rawa Blues. The festival began on Friday, September 30th, and lasted for three days.
This annual event collects thousands of the blues fans from all around the world every year. It was created in 1981 and it is the oldest blues festival in Poland, one of the most recognized in Europe and the world’s largest festival that is taking place under one the roof. In 2012, the festival was honored with the prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive award, which is given by The Blues Foundation (USA) to individuals and organizations that promote the blues around the world.
Even though the festival started on Friday, September 30th, and lasted for three days, some activities took place already on Thursday. On that day, a guitar virtuoso, double winner of the Grammy awards – Albert Lee – led the workshop of guitar “finger picking”. It was not, however, a strictly technical workshop, but rather the opportunity to meet with the master of the guitar, talk to him and listen to his stories about his musical experiences. The workshops happened in the chamber hall of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra.
The highlight of the festival was Friday concert where an outstanting blues singer and three-time winner of Grammy awards – Keb’ Mo’ – played songs in symphonic arrangements with the accompaniment of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton Krzesimir Dębski.
The same day, guitarist and vocalist Corey Harris that combines traditional acoustic blues with spicy African sounds played in the main hall at the National Polish Radio Symphony
On Saturday, concerts were played at Spodek hall in Katowice, as it already is a tradition for the 36 years of the festival’s existence.
Before noon, concerts began on the small stage where eight Polish bands performed: Pokój Numer 3, Levi, Blackjob, Black Bee, Blues Drawers, Elephant’s Escape, Forsal, and Jurajski Oddział Bluesowy. As in previous years, the audience was able to choose their favorite, where the winning band was presented on the Spodek’s main stage in the evening.
A feast for blues lovers started on the big stage at 4 PM. First, artists who sent their application and were selected by the competition jury played. These include: Cheap Tobacco, Joe Colombo feat. Kasia Skoczek and Janusz Hryniewicz.
Final concerts started soon after, with the opening concert of the event director – Irek Dudek – performing under the stage name Shakin ‘Dudi. After that, there was time for the event stars: a guitarist and singer from Chicago Toronzo Cannon, Albert Lee with the band, Shemekia Copeland and JJ Grey & Mofro.
The special guest was the legend of Polish rock and blues – the band Dżem, that returned to the festival stage Rawa Blues after more than 20-years.