Recapping Blues-Out 2009

Published 1:41 pm Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The second annual June Summer Blues-Out rocked downtown Picayune on Friday and attendees were treated to an all-out show, albeit a slightly busy one.

Indeed, there was something for everyone at Blues-Out 2009 which offered a variety of entertainment from musicians, to a car show, to several different eating contests, to artists, to children’s activities, an artist scavenger hunt, short dramatic scenes performed by Picayune On Stage players and much more. The activities stretched across East and West Canal streets and trickled over into some of the little side streets along the way. In other words, there was no shortage of fun to be had.

The event was highly anticipated by lots of folks, particularly those that worked so hard to see it to fruition, such as Picayune Main Street, Main Street merchants, Greater Picayune Arts Council and all of the participating musicians and artists. From the sweat off lots of brows, this labor of love proved itself a rather gratifying little festival and one I hope will continue to thrive.

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Blues-Out was not only a time for those who’d had a long work week to let down their hair and come out and enjoy their friends and the community in a party-like atmosphere, but it was also a time to celebrate just how much we have right here at home. Blues-Out not only threw Picayune in the competitive cultural race, but may have given it the slight edge over some such popular events, such as Second Saturday on the coast, because of the sheer magnitude of high quality talent that was put together in one place on Friday. If Blues-Out competed against itself, 2008 vs. 2009, 2009 was the clear winner, with many major improvements from one short year to the next.

For example, last year, for its maiden voyage, the event saw both blues and bluegrass musicians on the main stage. This year’s more focused musical genre — blues only — proved much easier on the ears.

Another improvement was the time change. This year the event was moved out of the hottest part of the day on a Saturday into the evening hours, 5-9 p.m. on a Friday. Although it was still very hot for the first two and a half hours — a fact that cannot be denied — that last hour and a half, found the sun setting, and much more bearable temperatures.

Those that came out to enjoy one particular aspect of the event, either taking in the music or enjoying the art walk, probably had a fantastic time. For example, if one just wanted to have a meal and listen to a musician, then parking themselves on the porch of Café Amore for the evening, eating a gourmet pizza and listening to the tunes of blues artist Jimmy B who played at Farmer’s Market across the street, was in and of itself a good night out.

Those that camped out by the main stage, with perhaps some barbecue from Stonewall’s, also probably had a great time, relishing a variety of musical acts that came parading across the main stage to them.

For art lovers, perhaps a little more walking was involved, but for those who dared to brave the heat and take in the sites, there was a plethora of very talented painters and potters, and even a blacksmith, demonstrating and exhibiting their crafts. Along the route, attendees would be serenaded by blues musicians who were camped at different sites, creating another realm of pleasure to the evening.

Where the event was slightly less successful was that there was perhaps too much to do and not enough time in which to do it all. Those that tried to do a little bit of everything, i.e. me, probably found themselves a little frantic.

Yes, being slightly pulled in several directions at once, but yet really wanting to savor each activity as its own entity, was a bit trying. There were times were I felt like one of my cats who are amazingly easily distracted. I was distracted to the point that it was hard for me to REALLY look or REALLY listen to anything because I had to hurry on to the next thing — I only had four hours and the clock was ticking!

The one other issue was the distance over which the activities were spread. While the artists, musicians and merchants that were relatively near the main stage, enjoyed a good, thick crowd throughout most of the evening, those folks that were stationed on the fringes of the Blues-Out route got a rather thinned out trickling of folks to venture their way. I found myself feeling sorry for those artists whose work would not be fully realized that night — artists and musicians that deserved the same admiration as those closer to the main action.

One great thing that Blues-Out demonstrated was that there is a definitive need for these types of activities in the community. The good-sized crowds of art and music lovers showed that the hunger is here and must be fed. I commend event organizers within the Main Street organization, GPAC and all the others for what they accomplished this year and am already looking forward to next year.

As Blues-Out continues to tweak itself, hopefully among the lessons learned will be the old adage that less is more. There is definitely the bones of something great here, just don’t over do it!