Photography by Julian Haddad
Take off your shirt and shoes, because we’re talking about Hot August Blues.
Despite HAB’s name, on August 17th, festival goers were granted a beautiful day in the low eighties to jam in at three various stages. Weaving your way through stilt-walkers, as vendors and sponsors peddled beer and handcrafted items, the atmosphere of Hot August Blues was so fluid that the day was simply a cruise through fields and hills of blues and roots.
At noon, with hundreds of attendees already lining the grass of Oregon Ridge Park with beach chairs and hula-hoops, festival founder, Brad Selko, welcomed audiences to the main stage. Promising an awesome day of blues and roots, Selko stepped aside to let Cara Kelly & The Tell Tale greet the crowd with one of the first “Ya’ll”’s of the day.
Recently voted “The Best Music Fest in Baltimore” by Baltimore Magazine, Hot August Blues added a third stage this year, creating a cohesive set list that left attendants little-to-no down time between each act. Even the close proximity between the Professional Vision Stage and the Hillside Stage didn’t create any undesirable noise between sets, allowing for a interconnected myriad of blues enjoyment.
From local acts like The Herd of Main Street to the classic Eddy Clearwater, festivalgoers were blanketed by blues and roots the moment their tickets were ripped to the last note of the day.
Between sets at the main stage, attendees could also participate in the captivating drum circles of the trained healthrhythms facilitator, Jordan Goodman of Beatwell. Those passing by were encouraged to pick up anything they wanted off the percussion rug, to start in on the drum party. The circles grew larger as the day went on, and all those involved experienced a new part of Hot August Blues that incorporated the unity the dancing of the festival always provided, with an interesting and intimate creative session, exemplifying the atmosphere that HAB has become.
For those that could last the entire day, even after the vigorous drum circles, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals were last to take the stage just as the sun was setting. Under a canopy of stars, the band performed originals as well as covers like Steve Miller’s, “American Girl.” Topping the night off with a beautiful performance, this year’s finale was just another reminder of the immense success Hot August Blues has become, from the backyard of Selko himself, to the breathtaking views of Oregon Ridge Park.