This year’s edition of the Rawa Blues Festival begins October 6 in Spodek Hall in Katowice. Since 1981, when Rawa was held for the first time, it has become the largest European blues festival. Many of the biggest blues stars from Poland and the world are performing at the festival named after the Rawa River, which flows through the town of Katowice. They include Luther Allison, Junior Wells, Koko Taylor, Carey Bell, Cephas & Wiggins, C. J. Chenier, Rory Block, Little Charlie & The Nightcats, James Blood Ulmer & Vernon Reid, Paul Geremia and Roy Rodgers. This year the stars will shine in Spodek again.
On October 6, blues fans will be seduced by the music of such artists as Janiva Magness, Asylum Street Spankers, Storm Warming and, of course, Ireneusz Dudek, who introduced the idea of the Rawa Blues Festival. Dudek also has announced the introduction this year of a new attraction: “Interdisciplinary Cultural Melting Pot,” a series of cultural events. The Rawa Festival has had an educational role for 26 years, encouraging people to learn more about the blues by watching documentary films and attending meetings with the musicians.
“This year we have decided to make the festival a multicultural event,” Dudek said. “So I have invited not only musicians but also other artists to take part in Rawa Blues.”
There will be poetry at this year’s festival. Visitors and poets such as Jerzy Kosek, Krzysztof Siwczyk, Marta Podgorniak and others can meet at the “Poetic Cafeteria.” Everyone is welcome to create a piece of poetry and then discuss it.
The Center of Film Art is also something new at the Rawa Blues Festival. One of the most interesting films may be “The Land Where the Blues Began,” a documentary partly created by blues expert Alan Lomax. The film is on loan to the festival from the U.S. Library of Congress.
However, the music still remains the most important part of the Rawa Blues Festival. The indisputably greatest star this year will be Janiva Magness. With her last two albums the artist – who has been named Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year for the second straight year – has showed her technical perfection, maturity and her versatility. She sings acoustic blues, standards of the Bessie Smith era, rhythm and blues songs in the New Orleans style as well as dynamic blues-rock pieces. Magness alone should be enough encouragement to attend Rawa Blues Festival in Spodek, and the entire festival is a great opportunity to enjoy a variety of great music.