Musicians from years past return to the Rowan Blues & Jazz Festival

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 18, 2013

The Rowan Blues and Jazz Festival will celebrate its 15th year by reliving the past.
All six of the professional performing acts have played at the festival before.
“I often say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said organizer Eleanor Qadirah. “In all of these years, we’ve tried to have a variety of youth leading all the way up to about 90-year-old performers.
“It’s been multi-generational as well as multi-cultural.”
The festival will kick off with a performance by the Salisbury Mini Funk Factory, which started as a group of Overton Elementary School students. They will march down Fisher Street and perform in front of the stage at 1:45 p.m.
The newly-formed Rufty-Holmes Senior Center guitar ensemble will take the stage at 2:15 p.m.
Shiela Klinefelter and The Ladies Auxiliary blues band will perform at 3 p.m. The group performs a mix of blues, R&B, funk and classic rock.
“Shiela was our very first headliner,” Qadirah said.
The contemporary jazz group The Brubakers are set to play at 4 p.m. The band fuses pop, rock and R&B with a jazz foundation.
“We’re always glad to have some local folks,” said Qadirah. “The Brubakers have recently released their newest album.”
Matt Walsh featuring Chuck Cotton and Mookie Brill will perform at 5 p.m. The group plans to do a Muddy Waters tribute to mark what would’ve been the blues musician’s 100th anniversary.
Festival fixture Joe Robinson will return to the stage with his band for the 15th consecutive year at 6 p.m. The lifelong Winston-Salem resident has been playing the trumpet since the age of 13.
“The good thing about him is that he likes to bring along young jazz musicians to showcase,” Qadirah said.
Starting at 7 p.m., Phil Wiggins, who performed with guitarist and singer John Cephas until his death in 2009, will play the blues on his harmonica.
The Handmade Jamz Blues Band will round out the night with a performance starting at 9 p.m.
The group of siblings consists of Ryan Perry, 21, Kyle Perry, 19, and Taya Perry, 14. Qadirah said they make their own instruments, much like older musicians in Mississippi who used everything from gas cans to cigar boxes to create guitars.
“They are keeping the tradition alive,” she said.
Prior to the festival, people can attend a free Storytelling Festival at the Rowan Public Library headquarters, 201 W. Fisher St., from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The event will feature special guest author 10-year-old Logan Mauldin.
Salisbury’s own Robert Jones, Rowan Public Library’s children librarian, will be on hand for storytelling as well.
Storyteller Beverly F. Burnett will host the festival, which will include a tribute to former storyteller Jackie Torrence.
Admission to the Rowan Blues and Jazz Festival, which will be held at 200 W. Fisher St. Saturday, is free. VIP tickets, which include stage front special seating, hospitality tent privileges and festive beverages can be purchased for $20 online at or by calling 704-636-2811.
“The original plan was to have something in our own county, so we wouldn’t have to go to other places like Greensboro or Charlotte and spend $100 on a ticket,” Qadirah said. “I think that everybody who comes has a good time.”
Those who attend are invited to bring chairs and blankets. Pets and coolers will not be allowed.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.