Beaver Creek has the blues |

Beaver Creek has the blues

Katie Coakley
Special to the Daily
Beaver Creek will be pulsing with the blues for summer's kickoff event at the resort, Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival, taking place May 27-28.
Zach Mahone | Special to the Weekly |

From the shoals of the Mississippi delta to the piedmont region of Appalachia, from the clubs in Chicago to the ranches in Texas, the blues have made their mark on the American consciousness.

The first form of purely American music, this blending of European traditions with African influences has touched nearly all of the disciplines that have followed. It’s almost impossible to hear a rap, rock, country or pop song without hearing the echoes of the blues — if you know how to listen.

During Memorial Day weekend, Beaver Creek will be pulsing with the blues, creating an unforgettable soundtrack for summer’s kickoff event. Performers include John Mayall, Tommy Castro and the Painkillers, Gary Allegretto and Shari Puorto, but the real star is the music itself, creating an unforgettable experience.

Test of time

The blues are truly America’s music. Born from a combination of European influences and African rhythms and call and response format, the blues are a genre that is not only timeless, but it’s also constantly evolving, influencing other music.

“Every type of music has come from that marriage — everything,” said Gary Allegretto, a blues harmonica player and singer who is performing on Saturday and Sunday at the Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival.

From rock ‘n’ roll to country music to rap, nearly every genre of music has roots in the blues, Allegretto said. But the blues itself is always changing, too — it’s a fluid sound, one that allows for personal interpretation and growth. And while some people preach that the blues can only be one sound, the original sound, Allegretto disagrees.

“Unless something grows, it gets stagnant and dies,” Allegretto said. “I never preach that keeping the blues alive is keeping it as it always was. It has to grow and expand and be in the musical vocabulary of future generations, however they interpret it.”

Tommy Castro, who has been performing for more than 40 years, knows that the blues evolve — he said that he never wants to make the same record twice. As a result, his sound is always fresh and different, a mixture of blues, soul music and rock ’n’ roll, from each record to the next while retaining the universal blues roots.

“I feel there is something so basic and natural … there’s something timeless about it,” Castro said. “The blues are resonating to all humans, just because it’s so basic and primitive in its roots. We’re not asking your ear to get accustomed to jazz chords — it’s simple … everybody gets it, if they get the chance to hear it.”

Buffet of blues styles

Attendees at Blues, Brews & BBQ will have multiple opportunities to hear the blues, with a variety of styles.

“Beaver Creek’s Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival brings in extraordinarily talented artists from all over the country, each delivering their own style of the blues,” said Jeremy Gross, special events manager at Beaver Creek Resort. “That’s one of the single best hallmarks about Blues, Brews & BBQ — every artist connects with the audience in a different way.”

This year’s lineup features a diversity of blues talent. From the classic style of blues legend John Mayall to the high-energy performance of Tommy Castro & the Painkillers to the powerhouse sounds of Shari Puorto and Gary Allegretto, audiences will be able to immerse themselves in the various shades of the blues.

Leading off the live music each day is Shari Puorto, a performer from California whose sound has been compared to Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt. With a raspy yet powerful voice, Puorto brings a modern rock sensibility to the blues, pulling in audiences with her endless enthusiasm and mesmerizing performances. Gary Allegretto, who will not only be performing but will also be teaching free harmonica clinics with instruments provided by Hohner, will light up the stage with the combination of masterful harp playing and insightful lyrics.

John Mayall, who earned the title “The Godfather of British Blues” due to his more than 50 years in the business, will headline Saturday’s performance lineup. Mayall, whose band the Bluesbreakers produced legends such as Eric Clapton and Peter Green in the 1960s, continues to set the standard in the industry; he was recently inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame. On Sunday, Tommy Castro and the Painkillers will headline, bringing a dynamic show that will have the crowd rocking, closing out the event with a bang.

Though each band has a different sound, there is a common element that all bring to the stage: the joy that they have in performing.

“We always try and put on the best show we can,” Mayall said. “It’s always very exciting to perform before a big crowd. We just like to get involved with it. … We’re hoping to have a great show and have people enjoy it.”

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