Black-Eyed Blues Fest returns to Hartford

The Black-Eyed Blues Fest will return to Bushnell Park in Downtown Hartford for its 20th year on Saturday, June 22.

HARTFORD — Black-Eyed Blues Fest will return to Bushnell Park in Downtown Hartford for its 20th year on Saturday, June 22 from 3 to 11 p.m. Produced by Black-Eyed Sally’s Southern Kitchen & Bar in partnership with the Connecticut Blues Society, this free event will feature seven bands including Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, Christine Ohlman a.k.a. The Beehive Queen & Rebel Montez, and the five finalists of the CT Blues Challenge.

Guests of all ages are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs. On-site barbecue, craft beers and soft drinks will be available for purchase from Black-Eyed Sally’s. Ben & Jerry’s will be on hand selling ice cream, as well. Coolers, outside food and beverages are not permitted.

The Lineup: Please note times are approximate.

From 3 to 6:30 p.m. attendees will enjoy five bands drawn from the region that have qualified as finalists for the CT Blues Challenge. Local favorites Ed Peabody and the Big Blue Thang, Sweet Daddy Cool Breeze, The Lovelace/Lesiw Blues Review, JB and The Hanky Panks, and The Whiskey Rebels have all earned a spot on the Bushnell Park band shell.

At 7 p.m., Christine Ohlman a.k.a. The Beehive Queen and Rebel Montez take the stage with their signature Blues on tap. Ohlman is the queen of blue-eyed rock n’ soul. She grew up loving equally the sweetness of a Memphis horn line and the raunch of an electric guitar riff, whether played by Muddy Waters, Keith Richards, or Pop Staples. Ohlman teased her blonde hair into a beehive in honor of Ronnie Spector and never looked back, picking up a guitar and forging a career as a songwriter in the process. She’s the current, long-time vocalist with the Saturday Night Live Band (SNL40’s anniversary post-show concert also featured her star turn onstage with Jimmy Fallon, Elvis Costello and the B-52s), whose latest CD, “The Deep End,” was honored on five national Top Ten lists and features special guests/duet partners Ian Hunter, Dion DiMucci, and Marshall Crenshaw, plus Levon Helm, GE Smith, Andy York, Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, Catherine Russell, Big Al Anderson, and others. Ohlman topped the Alternate Root.com’s Readers’ Poll as top Americana vocalist, joining other winners Paul Thorn, The Mavericks and Rodney Crowell. Rebel Montez, Christine’s supporting band, consists of Michael Colbath (bass), Larry Donahue (drums), and Cliff Goodwin (guitar).

At 8:30 p.m., Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band takes the stage under the steady hand of legendary drummer Jaimoe Johanson. Johanson, a native of Bloomfield, has scaled the heights of American rock and blues fame as a founding member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees the Allman Brothers Band. Jaimoe’s Jazz Band play American music, combining elements of Jazz, Blues, Rock-n-Roll, and R&B into a unique blend that captures the spirit and stirs the soul. Their repertoire ranges from new interpretations of classic tunes, as well as original songs that are classics in the making. Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band features Johanson on drums, Junior Mack on guitar and vocals, Dave Stoltz on bass, Bruce Katz on keyboards, and some of the finest horn players of our time, including Paul Lieberman (sax, flute, and piccolo), Kris Jensen (sax), and Reggie Pittman (trumpet). Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band has released several acclaimed albums including “Live at the Double Down Grill” and “Renaissance Man.”

The Black-Eyed Blues Fest is free.

Connecticut Media Group