39. Rawa Blues Festival

October 11th-12th 2019



Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, Irek Dudek

Main Stage, Spodek

James Blood Ulmer Memphis Blood Blues Band feat. Vernon Reid, Victor Wainwright & The Train, The Daniel Castro Band, Lindsay Beaver, Hannah Wicklund and the Steppin' Stones

Christine & The Blue Drags, Willie Mae Unit, Blackberry Brothers, Blues Junkers

Side Stage, Spodek

Adam Zalewski Trio, Magda Hanausek, Lublin Street Band, Roxana Tutaj & Good Omen, Black Job, Blues Menu, Diapositive, Silesian Hammond Group, Tipsy Drivers, The Storks


Hannah Wicklund and the Steppin' Stones

James Blood Ulmer Memphis Blood Blues Band feat. Vernon Reid

Victor Wainwright & The Train

The Daniel Castro Band

Lindsay Beaver

Rick Estrin & The Nightcats

Irek Dudek


Rawa Blues Festival is the brand that invariably attracts the most loyal blues fans from all over the country. On the appointed date, they want to be part of an event that always provides many emotions and experiences. Blues fans show up without a thorough analysis of the program and the degree of attractiveness of the selected artists. They know that at this festival they will hear  those who rarely perform in Europe.

The prologue took place in the hotel room, where the great guitarist and producer Kid Andersen talked about his adventure with the blues with the microphones of Radio Three on. In the second part of the workshop, Andersen was spontaneously joined in turn by his band leader, harmonica player Rick Estrin, and drummer Derrick Martin, for lack of instruments, pounding out rhythms on various parts of his body. Out came the excellent musical entertainment on full blast. 

The concert next day in the NOSPR hall was opened by Irek Dudek, who once again proved how much he dislikes stagnation, repetitiveness and lack of creativity in music. He sang the first five songs with his own accompaniment on guitar. In the second part, playing harmonica and violin, he and his band returned to his iron repertoire in a new arrangement. 

The second part of the concert belonged to Rick Estrin And The Nightcats. Four musicians were able to infect over two thousand listeners with exciting music. Each subsequent song was kept in a different rhythm: blues, swing, shuffle and even rock 'n' roll. Estrin's magnificent harmonica playing provoked Kid Andersen to no less virtuoso efforts. The show was stolen from them by drummer Derrick Martin in the background, playing technically superbly and with exceptional spectacle. After nearly two hours of concert, Estrin, who had just turned seventy, was heard singing "Happy Birthday" to the entire audience. In gratitude, he played an encore with Dudek invited on stage on harmonica. 

The contest on the Small Stage, which started the concert marathon in Spodek, was at a very good level. Among the ten participants were the acoustic blues playing Adam Zalewski Trio and Magda Hanausek. Electric blues was represented by veteran bands Blues Menu and Tipsy Drivers. Rock was prevalent in the repertoire of Diapositive, Black Job and The Storks. The eight-person Lublin Street Band made a very good impression, playing mainly funky dance music with a great brass section and slightly weaker vocals. Original proposals were presented by Roxana Tutaj & Good Omen and the winners of the Silesian Hammond Group competition. 

The Big Stage opened with Christine & The Blue Drags, a quartet steeped in the blues tradition. The winners of the Small Stage Silesian Hammond Group, already with the prize of five thousand zloty, played now with much more freedom than in the competition. Acoustic blues was presented by the Willie Mae Unit trio. Another Polish performers, Blackberry Brothers playing in the southern rock convention and Blues Junkers with an expressive vocalist and stage personality Natalia Abłamowicz gave a great performance.

The first foreign artist during the Spodek concert marathon was Canadian singer and drummer Lindsey Beaver with her band. Her music is a lively, dynamic mix of rockabilly, rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues. Beaver has proven that she can get the audience to play. 

Another performer was California-based guitarist and vocalist Daniel Castro, the artist who is little known for his concerts and albums. And on the Internet channel YouTube, his performance of the song "I'll Play The Blues For You" peaked over forty million views. Castro's concert was a calm and systematic unfolding of a blues story, with great vocals and noble guitar phrases, without a hint of technical juggling. The festival version of the standard "I'll Play The Blues For You" lasted several minutes, and a very successful concert ended with "She's A Little Rocker" with elements of Mexican folklore. 

For the first time in Poland, blues fans also heard the rising star of blues singer and pianist Victor Wainwright and his trio of excellent instrumentalists - The Train. The leader, quickly revealed charismatic features in his behaviour, stage movement, sensational way of operating the voice and playing the electronic piano. His music was full of surprising combinations, dynamic turns, melodic motifs and natural expression. Once again, this evening also revealed an outstanding guitarist. Pat Harrington shone in Wainwright's band, preferring stylistic counterpoint to the leader's offerings. Towards the end, Irek Dudek joined Wainwright's band with his harmonica. 

This is the fourth time James Blood Ulmer with guitarist Vernon Reid and the Memphis Blood Blues Band have appeared on Rawa Blues. The concert consisted of the same songs from the Chicago blues canon that we've heard at the festival before. This time, however, they were set on a different rhythmic basis - what mattered was the exposed pulse - in the trance dimension of the music. Increasing tension and sparse instrumental solos led in a pattern to a dense free jazz climax. The performance of Johnny Copeland's composition "Ghetto Child" at the end of the concert was a change and a sincere message. This musical blues lament brought real emotion and dismissed the general impression that Ulmer's voice no longer had its former depth and rich timbre. 

American singer and guitarist Hannah Wicklund first sang some of her own songs with her own electric guitar accompaniment. When the rhythm section of The Steppin' Stones joined, the music became richer in the conventions of ballad pop and blues-rock. A great songwriter, Wicklund takes a thoughtful approach to guitar playing, not pushing the typical instrumental showdowns. The young artist did her best to make the closing of the festival exciting.

A traditional jam session at the Novotel Hotel, this time was animated by Nick Schnebelen's band. A limited audience had the pleasure of attending a concert with unusual configurations of musicians such as Schnebelen-Kapołka-Castro and Schnebelen-Wainwright-Dudek.