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Santa Maria capital of blues

From July 14 to 16, renowned blues artists take the stage in Anjos, on the island of Santa Maria, to celebrate this musical genre that unites generations and different countries

Santa Maria capital of blues

Autor: Paula Gouveia

Anjos, on the island of Santa Maria, is again the meeting point for musicians and audiences, in a festival dedicated to the blues.

The Santa Maria Blues Festival includes renowned names of the blues, but also of different genres, coming from different countries. There are seven bands, two per night, except for the last night, in which there are three performances.

“This festival takes the name of Santa Maria Island into the world”, emphasizes José Amaral, artistic director of the event, adding that what makes the festival special is to have “an audience that appreciates music, more than the party”. That is why “there is a synergy between musicians and the public that has given much return to the festival itself”.

On July 14, the night is dedicated to Europe: “we will start with the Portuguese blues of the Taboo Blues Band, a new project by Luís Almeida, who plays the harmonica, the guitar, and who also sings, and who is coming to Santa Maria to release the first CD of this new project”, said José Amaral. And then the "European Blues Challenge" winning band - Harlem Lake, from the Netherlands – will take the stage. This band only released one album, but performs with “a super powerful and beautiful female voice, bringing an out-of-the-box blues, with influences from blues, rock and country”.

On Friday, the festival opens with The Bluesbones, “a band from Belgium, led by Nico de Cock, a friend and agent of other bands”, who has already been to the Azores and is familiar with the festival. “This band released several albums and won several awards in Europe, having influences from the blues of Chicago and the United Kingdom”, reveals José Amaral. The night closes with King (from Scotland), “a world-renowned band that brings a fantastic sound, based on the voice of Alan Nemo”.

Saturday is the American night: it starts with a band from South America (Brazil), Alexandre da Mata & The Black Dogs, who will present their new album, recorded with the drummer of AC/DC. This band is followed by “a diva, a US cultural ambassador”: Gisele Jackson & The Shu Shu's. “Gisele Jackson was invited to the inauguration of Bill Clinton – she is world-renowned and has sung on every continent of this planet, sharing stages with Ray Charles, among others,” explains José Amaral.

The last night ends with Rick Estron & The Nightcats. “I consider him the Frank Zappa of the blues, because he approaches the blues in a completely different way,” he underlines.
There will also be offstage activities: a masterclass with Alexandre da Mata on the evolution of the guitar in the blues (Friday, the 15th, from 7: 00 pm, at the Blues Bar); the Blues Trial Run, on Thursday, starting and ending at the festival ground; and the release of the Taboo Blues Band CD on Wednesday, at 10: 00 am.

José Amaral admits that accessibility to the island is the biggest problem, aggravated by the fact that there are no boat trips anymore: “This festival wants to be great, its quality is acknowledged, but there are many accessibility difficulties”. The event director states that the organization's expectation is to have “more people than last year, but not as much as in the years before 2019, which were fabulous for the island”, with about three thousand people per night.

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