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In tune: Free Silver City Blues Festival includes food, family fun

The Gila Glass Classic Frame Off will be held again this year at the Silver City Blues Festival. (Courtesy of the Mimbres Region Arts Council)

The Mimbres Region Arts Council is dedicated to showcasing the creative community in Grant County and Silver City.

This weekend, the Silver City Blues Festival will do just that.

Along with a lineup of musical entertainment, there will be family-friendly events, as well as food and live demonstrations.

In fact, the Gila Glass Classic Flame Off is returning to the festival for the third year. It starts at 5 today.

The Gila Glass Classic Flame off is a glass torching competition, which is hosted by The Glasserie. Eventgoers will be able to watch glass artists from the Southwest compete to make the best glass art creation.

“It’s been a very popular project and attraction,” says Kevin A. Lenkner, executive director of Mimbres Region Art Council. “We’re excited to have them come back.”

Lenkner’s goal is to offer more than music during the blues festival.

Felix y Los Gatos will perform at the Silver City Blues Festival. (Courtesy of Mimbres Region Arts Council)

“The music will get them to the festival,” he says. “When they get here, they will be amazed at all the offerings. There will be a plein-air painting workshop where artists can sit down and paint outside. There’s lots of vistas and landscapes to paint.”

An exhibition will be planned later with the art created during this workshops, Lenkner says.

The three-day festival starts today and runs through Sunday, May 26, in Silver City.

This is the 24th year of the festival.

Planning takes up to a year, and the arts council begins booking the bands in October.

This year’s festival will have more than 65 vendors.

“It’s a big show for a little town,” he says. “And it’s free. This is the festival that people have grown up with and we’ve grown alongside the community.”

The music starts with Albuquerque’s Rudy Boy Experiment.

The three-piece group, which features Rudy “Boy” Jaramillo on vocals and lead and rhythm guitar, has become increasingly popular in the western U.S.

Beginning on Saturday, May 25, Houston’s Guitar Shorty will take the stage.

Guitar Shorty has been performing for five decades, with his supercharged live shows and his incendiary recordings.

In addition to Guitar Shorty, the Laurie Morvan Band, is a five-piece blues band led by its fiery female lead guitarist vocalist.

The festival’s headline act is Grady Champion, based in Canton, Miss.

Champion is a Grammy Award-winning songwriter. He won the 26th International Blues Challenge in 2010, and he has performed at the Chicago Blues Festival, on the Legendary Blues Cruise and at the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival.

On Sunday, 16-year-old Roman Barten-Sherman of Tucson will perform.

He has traveled to learn directly from legendary blues musicians, including Guy Davis, Corey Harris, Roy Bookbinder and Robert Belfour.

Brody Buster will also perform at the festival. Buster has shared the stage with Quincy Jones, Keb Mo, Chaka Khan and Lee Oskar and was a regular performer at B.B. King’s Blues Club.

Closing out the festival is Albuquerque party band Felix y Los Gatos.

“Friday night tends to be a little bit more of a younger band,” he says. “We are featuring more regional bands this year. There is so much talent here in New Mexico that we’re happy to share it with the visitors from out of state. It’s also one of the remaining free festivals. We’re trying to make it the right size for people to really enjoy themselves.”

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