It’s a long way from the Mississippi Delta to Wallowa County, but the blues made its 19th yearly journey nonetheless. Five blues bands, bronzes from Parks Bronze and about 40 different beers also journeyed to the Bronze, Blues and Brews Festival held Aug. 7-8 at Joseph City Park.

A larger-than-average audience attended the opening night’s blues jam, held for the first time at the park, on the evening of Aug. 7. Several of the bands joined together for a high-energy jam that lasted for several hours during the balmy evening. The beer garden was open with offerings from several breweries to quench the thirst of revelers.

The main festival on Aug. 8 opened with promising weather and the stylings of Ben Rice and Lucy Hammond. “Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method” followed with a high-energy set that included O’Keary jumping off the stage to mingle and play bass with a very appreciative audience. “Roseland Hunter” followed, playing their stellar Portland interpretation of New Orleans funk.

Second to the headliners came the “Sultans of Slide” featuring, you guessed it — slide guitar. The band has three capable slide players who played a number of standards as well as original tunes well into the evening.

Threatening clouds gathered as headliners “Royal Southern Brotherhood” took to the stage, but the few minutes of rain failed to dampen the spirits of most of the crowd as the band, led by vocalist and second-line percussionist, Cyril Neville, and lead guitarist Buddy Walker blazed their way through the hottest set of the night with much of the crowd on their feet and dancing through the set. The blistering set proved RSB is not considered one of the top U.S. blues bands for nothing.

After the closing number, it’s doubtful anyone went home without thinking they’d gotten their money’s worth and then some for the weekend.

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