The 25th North Atlantic Blues Festival got off to a rousing start Saturday, July 14, under partly cloudy skies. Festival-goers enjoyed a light breeze, which kept things cooler than in some previous years.

However, the music was anything but chilly. As has been the case for the last few years, the day began with a performance by Midcoast Music Academy students, fresh from their weeklong blues camp with Ilana Katz Katz, this year's between-acts performer. The students threw themselves into their music, and had the audience singing along with them.

The day's first professional artist was Slam Allen and his band, who heated things up in short order. In addition to his regular repertertoire, Allen included a tribute to Louis Armstrong, when he sang "What a Wonderful World," doing a fine imitation of Satchmo's singing style. Later, he did a tribute to Prince with the song "Purple Rain."

Allen also generously invited Katz Katz to share the stage with him. The blues fiddler regularly plays in the subway stations in Boston.

Allen was followed on stage by Kat Riggins, whose home stomping ground is Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Before she went on, Riggins said this was her first time at the North Atlantic Blues Festival, although she has played at other festivals produced by Paul Benjamin. Those include the Suncoast Blues Festival in Sarasota, Fla., and Camping with the Blues in Brooksville, Fla. With that experience behind her, Riggins said, "anything Paul does, I know is gonna be a blast!"

Of her first impressions of the Maine, Riggins said she found it charming, especially the way houses here are all different, rather than being built all according to one design, as where she's from. The Rockland festival was her last stop, following gigs in New York and Boston, before going home.

Riggins took the stage like a queen making an entrance, and no throng of loyal subjects could have been more welcoming than the NABF audience. She promised to provide a range of blues styles so that when she was done, everyone would have "a good taste" in their mouth.

The festival continued Sunday, July 15, starting again with the Midcoast Music Academy students and winding up with Tab Benoit.