The 2022 Blues Heritage Festival on Saturday, October 29 will showcase the multi-generational glory of the genre, from a young local band of blues enthusiasts who came together as teenagers a few years ago to the internationally acclaimed duo made up of husband and wife. Annika Chambers and Paul DesLauriers make their Tucson debuts.
The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at the historic Steam Pump Ranch, 10901 N. Oracle Road in Oro Valley. Tickets are $30 in advance per azblues.org or $35 at the door, with discounts for Southern Arizona Blues Heritage Foundation members. It’s free for those 18 and under.
Here is the program and who’s who of the 2022 festival list:
- 11:15 a.m., ZNora. This Tucson trio led by founding vocalist and guitarist Adrian Negrete met as teenagers at the Blues Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Youth Music Showcase at Monterey Court and haven’t slowed down since. In addition to playing Tucson’s usual blues suspects including Hotel Congress and Chicago Bar, ZNora has toured throughout Arizona and New Mexico, covering classic blues and their own originals with youthful energy. infectious and what festival organizers described as “the skill and depth of much older musicians.”
- 12:15 p.m., The sugar thieves. What started as a duo in 2006 in Phoenix is now a powerhouse band with a killer rhythm section and a growing resume that includes sharing the stage with Taj Mahal, BB King, Willie Nelson, The Flaming Lips, The Blues Brothers, Lucinda Williams and Robert Cray. The group made their first appearance at the Blues Festival in several years.
- 1:30 p.m., Tom Walbank and the ambassadors. Walbank tops many Tucson blues lovers’ best-of lists, from his whiskey-tinged vocals to his killer guitar and harmonica chops. He brings his longtime band The Ambassadors and the influences of John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters to his raw blues style which has taken him on 20 albums and taken him to international blues competitions.
- 2:45 p.m., Carvin Jones Band. When guitar great Eric Clapton calls you an “up-and-coming blues player,” you can rest assured that Phoenix blues guitarist Carvin Jones is going to put on a terrific show. Over the past 25 years, Jones has toured internationally, proving that Clapton’s accolades aren’t unwarranted.
- 4 p.m., Annika Chambers and Paul DesLauriers. The Houston Chambers soul and blues singer and Canadian blues guitarist DesLauriers have turned a chance meeting at the 2018 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee into a romantic and musical partnership. The couple, who wed in 2019, bring a blend of soulful blues from Chambers and rockier blues from DesLauriers that transforms your seat into a place to hold your bag, not your butt when they’re on stage.
- 5:45 p.m., coolers. The eight-piece blues dance group from Tucson marks its 13th year of rocking audiences. They are repeat offenders at the Southern Arizona Blues Heritage Foundation festival with a repertoire that spans everything from Delbert McClinton, Etta James and Aretha Franklin to New Orleans jazz, funk, soul and groove.
Contact journalist Cathalena E. Burch at [email protected]. On Twitter @Starburch