Onset Blues Festival celebrates 25th anniversary

By Matthew Bernat | Aug 05, 2017
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Johnny Hoy, of Johnny Hoy & The Bluefish, performs Saturday at the Onset Blues Festival.

Now in its 25th year, the Onset Blues Festival has come a long way from when performers were paid with whatever money was raised from selling hot dogs and hamburgers.

“We didn’t have any licenses, no permits. We just decided to put on a show,” said Winna Dean, one of the festivals five original founders. “At the end of that first night, we were searching our pockets, someone had $7 here, another $12 there.”

The money was for James Montgomery, the first performer to ever be booked at the festival.

“He said: ‘Just give me what you’ve got,’” recalled Dean.

On Saturday, Montgomery and 10 others performed in the Lillian Gregerman Bandshell during one of the “most well attended festivals in recent memory,” according to organizer Kat Jones.

Jones, who has organized the festival for the past five years, said 500 tickets were pre-sold for the show, which serves as the Onset Bay Association’s premier fundraiser. Each year, the festival raises roughly $8,000. The money is used to offset the group's operating costs and other expenses, said Jones.

For the anniversary, Jones said a backing band was put together to support a list of previous performers in addition to the usual roster.

“It’s kind of a reunion, and a 'thank you' to all the longtime performers,” said Jones.

In addition to Montgomery, Grammy-nominated guitarist Kid Bangham, Gil David Correia, Greg Piccolo and others performed. A new act was welcomed this year as well, the Cape Cod-based blues, funk and soul band The GroovaLottos.

According to Jones, DJ Peter Black of 95.9 WTAD called it “a bulletproof lineup.”

Jones, and Onset Bay Association volunteer Linda Hannon, offered thanks to Cape Cod Beer. For the second year in a row, the brewer has sponsored the event and sold beer at the show, donating a portion of the proceeds to the Onset Bay Association.

“Their charitable contributions – not only for us but for many other groups – is incredible,” said Jones.

Winna Dean, one of the original Onset Blues Festival founders, has been volunteering at the show for 25 years. (Photo by: Matthew Bernat)
A couple dances while Johnny Hoy & The Bluefish performs. (Photo by: Matthew Bernat)
Comments (1)
Posted by: cranberry scoop | Aug 06, 2017 13:00

The music was excellent. A great day for Onset!

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