To our readers,

The COVID-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-century type story, ... Click here to continue

North Atlantic Blues Fest jams on the waterfront

24th North Atlantic Blues Festival draws thousands

By Kim Lincoln | Jul 16, 2017
Photo by: Kim Lincoln Judy Angell of Scarborough dances on Rockland's waterfront July 15.

Rockland — A light breeze and mostly cloudy skies July 15 and mostly sunny skies July 16 made for a delightful North Atlantic Blues Festival.

For the 24th straight summer, Rockland played host to the blues fest, earning it the distinction as one of the longest running blues festivals in the country.

Blues Fest Co-Founder and Co-Producer Paul Benjamin described the weather as almost perfect, compared to last year, which saw six hours of rain on the last day of the event. Benjamin estimated ticket sales were up about 6 percent this year, bringing between 15,000 and 16,000 people to the city during the course of the weekend. He said the weather forecast makes a big difference in ticket sales at the gate because if people see the conditions may not be so great, they do not come out.

A rainbow of lawn chairs filled Rockland's Harbor Park as music fans filled the seats, as well as the dance floor to the right of the stage.

July 15 saw guitar virtuoso Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, powerhouse vocalist Sari Schorr with her band The Engine Room, The Anthony Gomes Band, Biscuit Miller & The Mix and closing out with Shemekia Copeland.

On Saturday evening, Main Street was closed to traffic to make way for club crawl, where even more blues could be heard in the street.

Sunday, July 16, attendees heard from Kelley Hunt and her band, Dwayne Dopsie and The Zydeco Hellraisers, Harmonicon, Kenny Neal and Walter Trout, closing down the festival.

Benjamin said he'll take a couple of days before jumping right into planning next year's Blues Fest, which will celebrate 25 years, and he hopes to have some surprises and to honor the 25th year in some way.

"We will continue to bring in strong, solid acts, which is what the audience has come to expect," Benjamin said.

A sea of people crowd the waterfront for the 24th annual North Atlantic Blues Festival July 15 in Rockland. (Photo by: Kim Lincoln)
Biscuit Miller & The Mix. (Photo by: Kim Lincoln)
People line The Pearl pier during the show. (Photo by: Kim Lincoln)
And come by sea! (Photo by: Kim Lincoln)
Brimmed hats are a common theme. (Photo by: Kim Lincoln)
Blues Fest co-founder and co-producer Paul Benjamin of Rockland. (Photo by: Kim Lincoln)
The music gets the crowd right out of their seats. (Photo by: Kim Lincoln)
Paul Benjamin, left, and Biscuit Miller ask the crowd if they are ready to bring Anthony Gomes back on stage. (Photo by: Kim Lincoln)
Anthony Gomes rocks the waterfront for a second time July 15. (Photo by: Kim Lincoln)
Anthony Gomes and Biscuit Miller jam together on the Rockland waterfront July 15. (Photo by: Kim Lincoln)
Christone "Kingfish" Ingram opens the 2107 fest, returning to the stage later to jam with Biscuit Miller and Anthony Gomes. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
Siblings Evan, left, and Liam Riley are recipients of this year's Raising the Blues award, receiving an electronic drum kit and lessons. Evan, who has served as the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Ambassador for the State of Maine, says "thank you!" Saturday afternoon. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
A cameraman just to the left of the Fishermen's Memorial anchor cues Saturday's attendees to sing the Renys jingle for an upcoming commercial. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
Sari Schorr makes her North Atlantic Blues Festival debut; her opera-trained vocals made quite an impression. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
Anthony Gomes Band member Carlton Armstrong and Sari Schorr take a selfie backstage (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
The dance floor welcomes blues fans of all ages. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
The inter-act performers are a harmonica hit. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
Shemekia Copeland makes a welcome return to the blues fest … and even brought her baby son onstage briefly for an appearance. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
The 2017 North Atlantic Blues Festival fills Rockland Harbor Park. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
Matt & The Barnburners draws a big crowd on Main Street during the Saturday night club crawl. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
Biscuit Miller signs wine bottles — Savage Oakes put him on the official blues fest wine labels — at  Main Street Markets during the club crawl. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
Maine Sen. Angus King and his wife meet with constituents at Maine Street Markets during the club crawl; King said they had parked their RV in the South End. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
Delaney Drolet from Barnstable, N.H., starts the second day of the blues fest hoppin’. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
Keyboard mistress Kelly Hunt and her multi-piece band is the first Sunday mainstage act. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
The to-be-raffled guitars end up with all performers’ signatures. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
Dwayne Dopsie, left, and his Zydeco Hellraisers washboard player Paul Lafleur bring the party to the dance floor. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
Dwayne Dopsie brings the dance floor to the stage. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
Harmonicon gathers harp stars, from left, Sugar Blue, Billy Branch and Jason Ricci. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
Kenny Neal takes the sun-filled stage. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
Walter Trout begins a ferocious closing set Sunday. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at
Comments (2)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jul 16, 2017 17:43

Wonderful Rockland family events. Congrats to Rockland and the volunteers who put it all together.

Posted by: ANANUR FORMA | Jul 16, 2017 16:14

looks like a HUGE success, Paul.

If you wish to comment, please login.
Note: If you signed up using our new subscriber portal, your username is the email address you registered with and your password is in all caps