The summer festival season has arrived, loud and clear. And the first big one on the calendar is this weekend, and it’s one of the best.
The Gladstone Summertime Bluesfest, in its 18th year, is one of the strongest blues festivals in these parts. And this year’s festival lineup does Gladstone proud, with local favorites and a few surprises.
And the price is right: It’s a free festival, though it will cost you $5 to park.
Friday’s lineup opens with guitarist Fast Johnny Ricker and his band at 6 p.m., followed by perennial favorites the Bel Airs at 7:20 p.m. The headliner is guitarist and vocalist Larry Garner, an International Blues Challenge winner from Baton Rouge, La., with a little swamp in his sound; he goes on at 9:10 p.m.
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Saturday’s lineup opens with one-man band A.J. Gaither at 2 p.m., the perennial Danny Cox at 3:10 p.m., the Doghouse Daddies at 4:20 p.m., Arkansas roots-blues rockers Brick Fields and the Chosen Ones at 5:30 p.m., Kansas roots-blues rockers Moreland and Arbuckle at 7:20 p.m., and New Orleans blues-soul-funk mainstay Walter “Wolfman” Washington at 9:10 p.m.
Not bad for free.
The setting is Oak Grove Park at Northeast 76th Street and North Troost Avenue. Please leave the dogs and the alcohol at home.
The festival is presented by the city and the Gladstone Chamber of Commerce.
Kansas City guitarist Will Matthews has traveled the world with the Count Basie Orchestra for quite a few years, but he also cultivates some projects of his own. One that’s close to his heart is a powerful little organ combo. His friend Bobby Floyd, a local jazz hero in Columbus, Ohio, is the organist when the group takes the stage at the Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Blue Room also has singer Lester “Duck” Warner at 7 p.m. Thursday and the band BMW at 8:30 p.m. Friday. The Jazz Disciples are in charge of the Monday jam at 7 p.m.
There’s a new weekly jazz series at the Westport CoffeeHouse theater, 4010 Pennsylvania Ave. The Project H, the band of trombonist Ryan Heinlein, opens it at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Take Five Coffee and Bar, 5336 W. 151st St. in Leawood, has the band Shades of Jade at 8 p.m. Friday and bassist Tyrone Clark’s trio at 8 p.m. Saturday.
The Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., has organist Everette DeVan at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, followed by vibraphonist Peter Schlamb at 9 p.m.; pianist Tim Whitmer at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by organist Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m.; drummer Arnold Young’s quartet at 9 p.m. Saturday; DeVan’s quartet at 3 p.m. Sunday, followed by the Foundation 627 Big Band at 8 p.m.; DeVan at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, followed by keyboardist Bram Wijnands and his B-3 Bombers at 9 p.m.; and organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 9 p.m. Wednesday.
The Broadway Jazz Club, 3601 Broadway, has the Sons of Brasil at 7 p.m. Thursday; singer Kelley Gant at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by singer Dave Stephens’ group with pianist Mark Lowrey and guitarist Rod Fleeman at 9 p.m.; singer Ida McBeth at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by singer Havilah Bruders (from the band Cadillac Flambe) at 9:30 p.m.; bassist Bob Bowman’s trio at 7 p.m. Tuesday; and the quartet of Schlamb and tenor saxophonist Steve Lambert at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City, directed by Brad Cox, performs at 8 p.m. Sunday at the RecordBar, 1020 Westport Road.