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September 13, 2012

Blues at the Crossroads offers 2 nights of non-stop entertainment

TERRE HAUTE — Even longtime Blues at the Crossroads festival-goers will notice some new scenery this year.

The 12th annual celebration of blues in the streets of downtown Terre Haute will feature some interesting and fan-friendly twists as all-evening music unfolds, starting at 6 p.m. Friday, and 3:15 p.m. Saturday.

The admission price returns to $10 per person, per day. That entry fee, paid at the gate, gives a fan access to that evening’s full roster of acts — five on Friday, and seven on Saturday. Last year, with a Saturday admission of $20, attendance dipped, but organizers were able to cover all of the festival’s expenses, said Connie Wrin, blues fest founder and organizer. To keep this year’s price down to the previous level of $10 on both days, the gate will open a few hours later than usual on Saturday, lowering the cost for staffing, police and insurance, she added.

Wrin said she “would be happy” with a two-day crowd total of 8,000, and the weather forecast — a key attendance factor — appears to be good. The turnout hit 10,000 in 2010, filling the intersection of Seventh Street and Wabash Avenue.

Veteran blues fest fans will quickly spot two new elements. A JumboTron screen, near the beer garden on the west boundary along Wabash, will broadcast live images from the stage. Also, a centralized food court will occupy the parking lot of the Vigo County School Corp. administration building.

Meanwhile, the sounds emanating from that stage will offer listeners a unique treat — an added dose of blues delivered with a woman’s touch. Several of the acts feature women as solo artists, lead singers, backing vocalists and musicians. Two acts on Friday (Jennie DeVoe and Sara Ehrhardt), and another two on Saturday (Jill Shutt and Erin Zindle of the Ragbirds), are fronted by women, while others (such as Breezy Peyton, washboard player for Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band) will support guy singers. Likewise, Terre Haute’s Yearbook Committee is comprised of Christina Blust, Jon DaCosta, Travis Dillon, David Goodier, Brad Lone and Rachel Rasley.

DeVoe, a popular Indianapolis-based singer-songwriter-recording-artist known around the country, has opened for Bonnie Raitt, Joe Cocker, Lucinda Williams, Jack Johnson, Ray Charles and other notables, and played the last Lillith Fair. Her repertoire ranges beyond blues as she puts her unique stamp on folk, pop and rock material.

“We just happen to be bluesy, and I hope we fit in with the festival,” she said in a telephone interview.

“It’s going to be cool, and we love doing established festivals,” DeVoe added.

Later Friday, Ehrhardt, a Minneapolis recording artist for Blind Pig Records, will take the stage with her band, featuring her guitarist father, Ed Ehrhardt. On Saturday, Shutt opens the music and Zindle and the Ragbirds are scheduled as the closers. In between, they’ll hear Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band, a trio including Josh Peyton on retro slide guitars, his “cuz” Aaron Persinger on drums (and 5-gallon bucket), and Josh’s wife, Breezy, on wicked washboard. Josh Peyton calls their sound, which includes a popular new album “Between the Ditches,” as “rural blues.”

“People that are true blues fans know the real history, and they always get what we do,” Peyton said. “They understand it.”

And other folks?

“Usually, they like it,” he added, “but they’re confused.”

Mark Bennett can be reached at (812) 231-4377 or mark.

bennett@tribstar.com.

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