Make a Scene: New things are at store for Old Town Rhythm and Blues Festival

  • KISS AND TELL. Puyallup-based country-rock band Sweet Kiss Momma will play the Old Town Rhythm and Blues Festival on July 13, a reflection of the event's increasingly eclectic lineup. (Photo courtesy of band)

The Old Town Rhythm and Blues Festival (formerly known at the Old Town Blues Festival) will return to Old Town Park on July 13 after a stripped down version of the event held entirely indoors, at Tacoma's Spar Tavern and Slavonian Hall, in 2012. And the event has gotten a new name and a slight makeover for its 21st annual run.

The name change reflects its increasingly eclectic lineup and an influx of new blood behind the scenes. Longtime promoters Ted Brown and Mike Mitchell parted ways after last year's festival. Brown remained on and booked this year's festival with T-Town Apparel owners Gail and Pat Ringrose.

“Officially, this is year one,” Brown said. “We just kind of changed the scope a bit.” I'm not as heavily into the blues music as I was. Certainly, that's my passion, but I decided to kind of open it up musically to some other types of music. I've gone a little bit country and little bit Dave Matthews style. I've got a little bit of cover music in there. It just makes it a full, rounded atmosphere of music.”

The event kicks off at 9:30 a.m. with the traditional Bluesberry Pancake Breakfast, a flapjack feast that will feature a performance by Kansas City bluesman Johnny Long at Slavonian Hall. Opening ceremonies follow at noon at nearby Old Town Park, kicking off an afternoon of free, family friendly sets there and at neighborhood venues the Spar, the Mountaineer Club, Treos and Tacoma Music Society.

Among the acts playing the main stage in the park are Billy Stoops (Junkyard Jane, Billy Roy Danger & the Rectifiers); Enumclaw's Palmer Junction, a finalist in South Sound Blues Association's Back to Beale Street competition; local Southern rock favorites Sweet Kiss Mama; and 15-year-old guitar prodigy Nolan Garret, who will headline with songs from his recently released debut CD, “All the Time,” at 6 p.m.

Seattle's Tower of Power-inspired DoctorfunK will headline the evening showcase, which will start with an opening set by Rafael Tranquilino at 7 p.m. upstairs at Slavonian Hall. The 10-piece funk n' soul band will play songs from its new album, “Second Opinion.” Tickets are $20 and available at T-Town Apparel, Ted Brown Music, Metro Market, Musicians Exchange, Treos and the Spar and Parkway taverns. Some proceeds will benefit the YWCA Pierce County.

Festival Lineup

Here's the full lineup, with more details available at

  • Old Town Park (2350 N. 30th St): Opening ceremonies (noon), Billy Stoops (12:10 p.m.), Palmer Junction (1 p.m.), Mojo Overload (2 p.m.), Rafael Tranquilino (3 p.m.), Troy Hill (4 p.m.), Sweet Kiss Momma (5 p.m.), Nolan Garrett (6 p.m.)

  • The Spar Tavern (2121 N. 30th St.): Tatoosh (3 p.m.); Curbside (5 p.m.), 7 on 7 (8 p.m.)

  • Mountaineers Tacoma Branch (2302 N. 30th St.): Strange Nails (noon), Gin Creek (3 p.m.), Dean Reichart (5:30 p.m.), James King & the Southsiders (8:30 p.m.)

  • Old Town Music Society (2101 N. 30th St.): Palmer Junction (5 p.m.), Steve Cooley and the Dangerfields (8 p.m.)

  • Slavonian Hall (2306 N. 30th St.): Downstairs, Bluesberry Pancake Breakfast, featuring Johnny Long (9:30 a.m.), Mojo Groove (5 p.m.), T-Town Aces (8:30 p.m.); Upstairs, Rafael Tranquilino (7 p.m.), DoctorfunK (8:30 p.m.)

  • Treos (2312 N. 30th St.): Johnny Long (7:30 p.m.)

More details available at


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