Blues Party is team effort in Eureka

Pulling off a four-day, citywide music festival is no small feat, and it doesn’t happen without a lot of collaboration and cooperation.

That spirit of collaboration is quite evident in this year’s Eureka Springs Blues Party, which kicks off Thursday, May 30, and continues through Sunday, May 2, with more than 50 performances at venues large and small throughout Eureka Springs.

The event is a group effort between the Basin Park Hotel, Little Wing Productions, the Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission, Grotto Wood Fired Grill and Wine Cave, OzMoMu Productions and partner bars including Chelsea’s, the Gravel Bar, Rowdy Beaver Tavern, Missy’s White Rabbit Lounge and more.

The headliner for this year’s festival is 2024 Blues Legend Sonny Landreth, who will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 31, at the Auditorium. Landreth’s performance is presented by Little Wing Productions.

Jack Moyer, general manager of the Basin Park and Crescent hotels, says all the participants are necessary to make the Blues Party a success.

“I always look at in tiers,” Moyer said. “You’ve got to have the CAPC and the Auditorium working with the promoter for the headliner. You’ve got to have the Basin Park carrying the Blues stages, including supporting the Center Street Block Party and supporting the Grotto upstairs and the (Basin Park) bandshell. … It’s all about live music equals driving occupancy. Live music equals visitation.”

“I think it’s just a stroke of wisdom to collaborate with so many people in the business community,” said Mike Maloney, executive director of the CAPC. “Economically, it’s a great driver, because it does the things you want any event to do. It’s obviously entertaining, number one, but at the top of the list, it’s great for the lodging business. It’s great for the restaurant business. It’s great for retail and helps keep the economy vibrant. Sometimes there are times when we really need a good boost. So we’re we’re pretty excited about this coming together and the talent on board with it, and then the cooperation of all the people that are putting the hard labor into it, as well.”

Moyer said the CAPC’s involvement is critical to the success of the festival.

“The CAPC is is an active and integral partner that validates the blues festival and brings all of the partners to the table,” he said.

Larry Shaeffer, the founder of Little Wing Productions, said Wednesday, May 22, that tickets are still available for the Sonny Landreth concert.

“And the opening act is someone that I have a lot of faith in that’s very exciting and most people haven’t heard of yet, Seth Lee Jones,” Shaeffer said.

Shaeffer praised Moyer for putting together a great lineup of artists on various stages. This is the second year of the Blues Party and Shaeffer said he envisions it becoming a tradition.

“I intend for this thing to keep building up as the years go by,” he said. “Everything we’re doing is building a profile for the future.”

Another highlight of the festival is the Center Street Block Party that Moyer mentioned. The event, to be held from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 1, in downtown Eureka Springs, will benefit the Eureka Springs Community Center. The area will be part of a temporary entertainment district that will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday during the festival.

Anna Smedley, executive director of the community center, said a small portion of Center Street will be closed off for the block party.

“We’re going to have live music, a couple different bands, and we’re going to have, a beer tent,” Smedley said. “So we’re going to be the outdoor bar for the entertainment district. We’ll have a couple of games. We’re going to have some food. Just a lot of fun.”

Smedley, who grew up in Eureka Springs, said she remembers blues festivals being a summer tradition in Eureka Springs.

“We’re so excited to have it returned,” she said. “I’m really happy to be part of this larger group that’s planning different activities for our visitors and our locals to come and enjoy the blues here in town. I’m just really excited about the many individuals and the different groups that have come together to help produce this weekend. I’m just really, really excited that so many folks are pitching in to make sure this can happen.”

With so many people working hard behind the scenes, it will be easy for music fans to relax and just soak up the experience.

“When you put together this many musicians into one central location for, not a very long time but enough to make it so it’d be hard to go someplace and not hear some good music,” Maloney said.