JP Soars and the Red Hots are all over the Midcoast the first half of this month, beginning with appearances Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 7 and 8 at the annual DamBluesFest in Damariscotta. On Monday, Aug. 9, Soars and band will play the Monday Night Blues series at Rockland’s Time Out Pub. On Saturday, Aug. 14, the band will headline an evening that also features The Nouveaux Honkies at, and to raise winter heating funds for, the Waldo Theatre of Waldoboro.

Most blues guitarists have not played in a handful of metal bands and are not influenced by jazz icons like Django Reinhardt and Wes Montgomery … which, as much as anything, explains why South Florida-based JP Soars does not sound like any other guitar slinger. In addition to his own band, Soars plays with former Elvin Bishop saxophonist/vocalist Terry Hanck and the Gypsy Blue Acoustic Revue, which updates the classic 1930s and ’40s material of Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli.

Soars was born in California and raised in Arkansas. He moved to South Florida in 1985. A trip to Memphis to meet blues legend Jessie Mae Hemphill proved to be a life-altering moment. The simple beauty of the hypnotic country blues, and a chance meeting with cigar-box guitar pioneer John Lowe, opened another door of musical majesty to a very receptive Soars.

Another trip to Memphis, as a sideman with David Shelley and Bluestone for the 2007 International Blues Challenge, gave Soars a glimpse of the finals as the band made it to the top 10. Not long after, Soars formed the Red Hots and would be on that very stage again in 2009. Having won the local level of the blues challenge two years in a row, JP and the Red Hots took home top honors. Soars also was awarded the Albert King Blues Guitar award.

As part of the IBC prize, Soars has performed at the Eureka Springs festival in Arkansas, Gladstone Festival in Kansas City, the Montreal Jazz and Blues Festival, Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, Ore., Telluride Blues Festival in Colorado and the Heritage Festival in West Virginia. They will play this year’s edition of the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise.

The DamBluesFest will run from noon to 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Round Top Farm’s Darrows Barn on Business Route 1, Damariscotta, immediately followed by the downtown club crawl. Cost is $15 for a festival bracelet, which will waive the $5 club crawl cover charges. JP Soars and the Red Hots perform 5 p.m. Saturday and will cap the festival beginning 3 p.m. Sunday at the downtown Schooner Landing. For more information, visit

The Monday Night Blues Series runs from 7 to 10 p.m. in the upstairs music room of Time Out Pub, 275 Main St. Admission at the door will be $10.

The Waldo Theatre benefit will begin 8 p.m. Aug. 14 at the historic theater on Main Street/Route 220, Waldoboro. Tickets are $10 in advance at Narrows Tavern or Annie O’Roark’s, both in Waldoboro; and will be $15 at the door. Proceeds will benefit winter heating costs for the Waldo.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to