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Kara Grainger playing the guitar while a few people began the create a dance floor near the stage at the 26th Annual River City Blues Festival on March 17 in Marietta, OH.  (Carolyn Rogers/WOUB)
Kara Grainger playing the guitar while a few people began the create a dance floor near the stage at the 26th Annual River City Blues Festival on March 17 in Marietta, OH. (Carolyn Rogers/WOUB)

PHOTOS: 26th Annual River City Blues Festival


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Over this past weekend, there was something particularly alive within the Grand Ballroom of the historic Lafayette Hotel in Marietta, OH. Friday and Saturday the hotel played host to the 26th iteration of the River City Blues Festival, which is organized yearly by the Mid-Ohio Blues, Jazz, and Folk Music Society.

The event kicked off Friday evening with performances from blues guitarist Kara Grainger and renowned New Orleans based outfit Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hell Raisers. Saturday morning Ohio-based Schools that Rock (under the direction of Mark Doebrich) started the second day of the festival with a free set, which was open to the public.

Kara Grainger (right) and the band playing the last song for the night  at the 26th Annual River City Blues Festival on March 17 in Marietta, Ohio.
Kara Grainger (right) and the band playing at the 26th Annual River City Blues Festival on March 17 in Marietta, OH. (Carolyn Rogers/WOUB)

Schools that Rock is a year-long program dedicated to teaching young people in the Southeast Ohio region how to play and perform a variety of musical styles. The program is completely free, and has been ongoing for about 16 years.

The second act of the Saturday round of performances started off with Chicago-based Studebaker John, whose sound is heavily influenced by the fact that he was an attentive student to mid-century bluesmen such as Big Walter Horton, “One-Armed” John Wrencher, and Johnny Littlejohn throughout his youth.

Two women dancing while Kara Grainger and the band jam  at the 26th Annual River City Blues Festival on March 17 in Marietta, Ohio.  (Carolyn Rogers/WOUB)
Two women dancing while Kara Grainger and the band jam at the 26th Annual River City Blues Festival on March 17 in Marietta, Ohio.
(Carolyn Rogers/WOUB)

Bona fide Chicago blues legend John Primer and the Real Deal Blues Band followed Studebaker John with a blistering set. Primer has performed with the likes of Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Magic Slim & the Teardrops, Junior Wells, Gary Clark Jr., Johnny Winter, The Rolling Stones, Derek Trucks, Buddy Guy and more.

The festival closed out on Friday night with sets by John Németh and young blues talent Samantha Fish.

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Kara Grainger performs at the 26th Annual River City Blues Festival in Marietta. (Carolyn Rogers/WOUB)