Photo contributed by David True
Tee Dee Young sings and plays his signature Parker Fly onstage. Young and his band will play their original blues music at the 23rd Annual Hot August Blues Festival on Saturday, Aug. 25 at the Kenlake State Resort Park ampitheater.
Musicians at this year’s 23rd annual Hot August Blues Festival will put the “blue” in “bluegrass.” The weekend-long event will feature bands that offer a new take on the traditional blues genre.
“We like bands that have their own sound and write their own songs,” festival organizer Debbie Howard said. The John Sutton Band and Tee Dee Young’s Band, both of which will play this year, certainly fit the bill.
Lead men John Sutton, of Nashville, Tenn., and Tee Dee Young, of Lexington, say their bands reflect the influences of their regions.
“I always tell people I’m a beach bum stuck in the middle of Tennessee,” Sutton said. “(Our music) is definitely not straight-up Delta blues. The Southeast region ... has an influence on it.”
Young echoes the sentiment. “We’re sort of caught in between Chicago and the Delta blues,” he said. “I think it captures a lot of people. Even blues artists come to me and say, ‘Man, what type of guitar are you using?’”
Young plays his blues on a Parker Fly, which he says gives the music a different sound.
Young respects traditional blues artists who have paved the way for newer generations. At the same time, he plans to take a bit of a departure from standard blues. “We bring a different sound, a different presence on the stage,” Young said.
“Number one, we bring a little more excitement to the blues,” he said. “People say, ‘Where do you get your energy from?’ and I say, ‘It’s my heart.’”
Part of the musicians’ enthusiasm comes from the audience itself. “Sometimes you have to close your eyes and act like you’re Garth Brooks playing in front of 30,000 people,” Sutton said. “But if the crowd’s fired up, we definitely draw from it.”
The John Sutton Band will open Saturday’s show with an hour-long set of music that Sutton says is geared toward live performances.
“Every song I write is with the idea of how it is going to come off live at a show,” Sutton said. “The show is energetic and dance-able and all that good stuff. Even if you’re a rock ’n’ roll or R&B fan, you’re going to like this music.”
Playing at festivals like the Hot August Blues is a passion for some bands. “All the other stuff to me — the writing, the recording — is all secondary,” Sutton said.
Young agrees. “When you get in front of that big crowd, it’s a totally different world,” he said. “It really boosts it up.”
Young’s band will conclude the festivities Saturday night.
Although the bands are excited to offer a break from the ordinary, they haven’t lost touch with the roots of blues music.
“Most of my music is about things that happened in my life,” Young said. “You can be in love with somebody. You can break up. You can lose your job. ... That’s basically what blues is about, is what you feel,” Young said.
The festival will begin Friday, Aug. 24, at 6 p.m. at the Kenlake State Park amphitheater. The music will run until midnight and continue at 2 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $12 for Friday and $17 for Saturday, with a $25 combo ticket available for both days. For more information or to buy a ticket online, visit hotaugustbluesfestiival.com.
Call Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641.
Want to go?
What:23rd Annual Hot August Blues Festival, featuring live music from 11 regional and national bands/
When:6 p.m. Aug. 24; 2 p.m. Aug. 25.
Where: Kenlake State Park Amphitheater
Admission is $12 for Friday and $17 for Saturday, with a $25 combo ticket available for both days.
For more information or to buy a ticket online, visit hotaugustblues.com.