MARQUETTE – Friday, a free show will kick off this year’s Marquette Area Blues Fest.

“We want to say thanks to the community for a decade of support,” said Walt Lindala, MABF promotions director. “We have Laura Rain and the Caesars from Detroit and The Gas House Gorillas from New York City performing in Mattson Park Friday, free of charge to the public.

“The added hook is that Marquette native George Friend is in Laura’s band,” he said. “And The Gas House Gorillas are also making a return trip by popular demand from The Big Apple.”

Lindala, one of the founders of the Marquette Area Blues Society – which puts on the music extravaganza – is grateful to those who have made Blues Fest thrive.

“The festival has been a success for a decade because of the support of the community,” he said. “Without the support of the people, sponsors and the city, we’d be nothing. That’s why we decided to do this special Friday evening event to say thanks.”

In addition to Friday’s free event, the Blues Fest will have packed-with-greats shows on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, with the music again taking place in Ellwood Mattson Lower Harbor Park.

Festival director Mark Hamari said the event’s evolution to one of the most beloved blues fests in the country is most pleasing to the Marquette Area Blues Society.

“It’s something we dreamed about,” Hamari said. “It’s a lot of hard work by a small group of blues lovers that has grown this into a wonderful festival. Many artists tell us is the best festival they attend. And it happens because of a dedicated group of great people.”

Volunteers are still being sought to help with a variety of tasks during the 2013 Marquette Area Blues Fest.

“People can go to our website ( and click on the festival icon,” Hamari said. “If a person works one shift, you get a 2013 Blues Fest T-shirt. If you work two shifts, then you get a T-shirt plus your ticket price for one day refunded.”

Hamari’s excited about all the artists appearing at the festival, but especially pleased with Friday’s free concert groups.

“The Gas House Gorillas were here in before and they’re really a crowd favorite,” he said. “They are high-energy group and the crowd really loves that.”

Friday night, Laura Rain and the Caesars will kick off the festival, hitting the stage at 6 p.m.

“The Marquette Area Blues Society is inviting everyone to come on down to Mattson Park after work on Friday and kick off Labor Day weekend with this free show. The gates open at 5,” Lindala said.

“Laura Rains and the Caesars will bring her bluesy, R&B soul sounds to the stage. She’s backed by a crack band of musicians,” he said. “The Gas House Gorillas hit the stage at 8 p.m. and with their unstoppable jump blues style and a one-of-a-kind stage show, they are not to be missed.”

The Aug. 31 musical line up is: Harp, Hart & Bones; The Organgrinders Blues Band; Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang; The Nick Moss Band; and Big James & The Chicago Playboys.

Sept. 1’s lineup is: Marquette Area Blues Revue with U.P. Gumbo, Flat Broke Blues Band and more; Tweed Funk; John Nemeth; and Janiva Magness.

Following the music Sept. 1 will be an after party and blues jam hosted by Tweed Funk at the Marquette Elks Lodge. Hamari said the $5 admission tickets for that event will be sold during the festival and that any remaining tickets will be sold at the door.

Festival-goers are reminded that no carry-ins are permitted on festival grounds and no videotaping will be permitted during performances.

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Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is