For the fifth time, Famous Dave's will be firing up the smoker and a fine contingent of the blues outside in downtown Minneapolis for the rib joint's annual BBQ & Blues Fest. Apropos in these hard times, admission is free, again making it one of the year's best musical bargains. Centered in Peavey Plaza, the festival will feature ten national and local acts on two stages beginning at noon. Headlining the main stage will be Atlanta blues guitarist Tinsley Ellis, whose blistering electric work mixes up rock intensity and Southern-fried soul. At the other stage will be southern Illinois native Corey Stevens, who can play the role of a fire-breathing Texas guitar slinger à la Stevie Ray, but also roams into a more nuanced arena influenced by pop, rock, and country, as he showed on his last album, a live disc recorded at Myth. Stevens will perform a pair of solo acoustic sets here. Contemporary blues guitarist Bernard Allison, son of the late Chicago guitar icon Luther, will crank up the action with local, renowned blues keyboardist Bruce McCabe. Also promising to spit sparks will be wildly popular guitarist Ana Popovic, who hails from the unlikely blues hotbed of Belgrade, Serbia, but sounds more like she's from Memphis. Her guitar prowess has earned comparisons to Hendrix and her soulful vocals to Bonnie Raitt. Rounding out the action will be Big Daddy Cade, performing a tribute to B.B. King; guitarist Shannon Curfman, who started making a name for herself in the blues when she was barely into her teens; the Kansas City quartet Levee Town, which wanders into rock and rockabilly; the up-and-coming local blues/psychedelic/folk-rock band Nikki & the RueMates; guitarist Brandon Scott Sellner; and the Dean Weisser Band. Should be plenty of cookin' on stage and off. All ages.
Sat., June 13, 12-10:30 p.m., 2009