Ivas John to bring 2nd blues festival to Cape

Friday, February 1, 2013
Ivas John performs at Port Cape Girardeau on July 21, 2006. (DON FRAZIER ~ File Photo)

Blues musician Ivas John moved to Cape Girardeau from Carbondale, Ill., looking for a change of scenery in a town that was growing, as opposed to one that seemed to be dwindling.

"After playing so many gigs and playing all the bars in Carbondale and the surrounding area so many times, I kind of felt like, you know, I got such a good grip on this kind of scene that I'd like to do something with that," John said.

While in Carbondale, John and his blues ensemble, the Ivas John Band, often traveled to Cape Girardeau for gigs at Port Cape Girardeau, 19 N. Water St., and John and Port Cape owner Dennis "Doc" Cain have a long-standing relationship.

When John had the idea a year ago to bring local and out-of-town blues acts he had met through various gigs to Cape Girardeau, having a festival at Port Cape was obvious.

"I've always loved that venue," John said. "I think it's really cool, it's almost like a character itself. [There's] a lot of history there, and it's just a really neat place to have a show."

Martin “Big Larry Williams” Allbritton poses at his home in Carbondale, Ill. (Fred Lynch)

Local blues has a home at Port Cape on Sunday nights, and good blues music is what it is known for, Cain said. There was no question that an event like John had in mind would happen at Port Cape.

"We always want to be involved in any good music scenario," Cain said. "We think we have an excellent venue for music. And we always want to be a part of any quality entertainment situation."

The debut of the Cross Rivers Blues Festival sold out. There was standing room only in the River City Yacht Club on Mardi Gras weekend last year, and John and Cain are hoping for no less this year as they bring in acts such as the legendary Big Larry Williams, Rip Lee Pryor and The Bel Airs from Columbia, Mo.

"I just kind of stuck my neck out and took the chance of putting something like the Blues Fest together, and it ended up being great. It was a total slam dunk," John said.

Doors for the 2nd annual Cross Rivers Blues Festival will open at 5 p.m. and the show will start at 6 p.m. Feb. 9 in the River City Yacht Club in Port Cape. The show will include five hours of entertainment from blues artists, and hors d'oeuvres will be provided by Port Cape.

Bruce Zimmerman and the Ivas John band will share the stage with Big Larry Williams, Rip Lee Pryor and The Bel Airs.

"This is just not four opening acts and a headliner," Cain said. "This is really five headliners, and I think that's what people need to know. It's five headlining individuals."

John has dedicated his life to the thing he is best at doing, not only by playing but also promoting blues music through the Southern Illinois Blues Society he helped found, and organizing shows like the Cross Rivers Blues Festival.

"I don't think that there's anything else that I'd rather be doing, or that I could do as well as what I'm doing now," John said. "I feel like I have something to contribute to the blues world, or the music world in general, and I have something to say and I want to say it."

Tickets for the Cross Rivers Blues Festival can be purchased in advance for $12 at Port Cape, Shivelbines Music Store and Hempies.

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $15.

Pertinent address:

19 N. Water St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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