Brevard Music Festival is diversifying more swiftly than a chameleon in a rainforest — witness its 80th-anniversary spectacular starring contempo-Christian crossover star Amy Grant, followed closely by the world debut of Falling Angel, a J. Mark Scearce-penned opera based on the lurid voodoo-and-forbidden-pleasures movie Angel Heart, a cult classic of the ’80s (check out our feature story on the opera in this month’s print issue: https://www.boldlife.com/angel-opportunity/). Later in the season, iconic banjo stylist Béla Fleck, virtuoso electronica composer Mason Bates, prodigy-turned-laureate piano player Conrad Tao, and many more upper-tier musical luminaries take the stage at Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium.
But before the six-week main event even opens, Brevard Music Center gets in a sultry sort of mood with its third annual blues-and-barbecue festival, a popular prelude that, in typical BMC fashion, draws the genre’s dreamiest players. The legends this year include guitarist Anson Funderburgh and gospel giants the Blind Boys of Alabama; among the rising stars are neo-soul singer Nikki Hill of Durham, also interviewed in this month’s Bold Life (https://www.boldlife.com/nothing-without-nikki/).
But there’s no true notion of regional blues without Andrew Scotchie and the River Rats, led by the wunderkind of the local scene. Scotchie is a soulful cyclone of a performer nurtured in the classic-rock oeuvre who, at only 23 years old, produces the local festival Asheville Barnaroo and leads his vibrant crew on a near-constant touring schedule.
The Rats have a strong following in Brevard, partly thanks to their appearance at last year’s fest, but also due to a hardcore knot of fans at the city’s year-round venue 185 King Street.
“This will be the best blues fest yet because of this year’s lineup and diversity,” Scotchie remarked this week to Bold Life. “The buzz has been building since last year.
“I love the people of Brevard,” he continues. “They have always treated us like family … it’s a profound connection.”
Already a veteran of the local festival scene, Scotchie remarks that “Blues Fest is unique in that the artists they bring aboard each year are playing their own brand of blues. Not one artist on this year’s lineup will sound like another artist. Blues, very similar to punk rock , has a framework … but the Rats and I, just like all the other artists on the lineup this year, have been working on creating our own unique brands of blues … while paying tribute to all the great blues men and women before us.”
The Brevard Blues N’ BBQ Festival at Brevard Music Center happens Friday, June 3, and Saturday, June 4. Nikki Hill performs on Friday, along with John Truant and Levee Daze, John Németh, and legendary blues guitarist Anson Funderburgh. Saturday’s lineup includes regional favorites Andrew Scotchie and the River Rats and many others; headliners are the Blind Boys of Alabama and Bettye Lavette. For ticket options and more information, see brevardbluesfestival.com or call 828-862-2105.