Has there ever been a more appropriately titled music festival than the one set to engulf downtown Tacoma this Saturday, April 4?
The festival Bobble Tiki speaks of, of course, is the Gray Sky Blues Music Festival, which kicks off directly after this weekend’s Tacoma Daffodil Grand Floral Parade and will fill several venues in the heart of the city with topnotch blues, including The Swiss, the Harmon, Cutter’s Point Coffee, urbanXchange and The Hub. Organized by the Tacoma Events Commission and folks involved with the South Sound Blues Association, the Gray Sky Blues Music Festival seems destined to provide everything its name suggests — though those in attendance could likely do without the clouds.
Zac Harmon, a renowned blues guitarist born in Jackson, Miss., will headline the festival. A studio musician and producer turned solo act and big time draw, Harmon has more than earned the many accolades he’s collected over the years — including winning the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in 2004.
For Harmon, the accolades are nice, but realizing his dream of being a successful blues guitarist in his own right — not reliant on studio work or freelance gigs — is really what it’s all about.
“I got to a point where I said, ‘I still haven’t done what I came here to do,’” says Harmon of his early career, before striking out on his own. “God gives you things when you’re ready, I guess.”
Not only does Saturday’s Gray Sky Blues Music Festival allow blues fans an opportunity to catch a rare talent like Harmon, but it allows Harmon — accustomed to calling the shots — a chance to do something different. Gone will be the highly orchestrated bells and whistles of his typical show. Instead, Harmon will have a chance to jam with musicians he’s unfamiliar with, Cary Black on bass and Mike Slivka on drums. This is part of the beauty of the Gray Sky Blues Music Festival.
“It’s actually very appealing. People will get some real, uncut blues,” says Harmon. “As long as the other guys can play, we’ll be fine.”
[The Swiss, Saturday, April 4, 1 p.m., Zac Harmon plays at 6 p.m., no cover, 1904 Jefferson Ave, Tacoma, full schedule at www.TacomaEvents.com]
The Swiss Pub, 1904 S. Jefferson Ave.
Noon Corvette car show.
1 p.m. The Son Jack Jr.’s Delta Hothouse.
2:30 p.m. The Al Earick Band with Mariano Silver
4 p.m. The Randy Oxford Band.
6 p.m. Headliner Zac Harmon.
The Harmon Brewery, 1938 Pacific Ave.
Noon Classic car show.
Noon The Cody Rentas Band.
1:30 p.m. Little Bill & the Bluenotes.
3 p.m. Maia Santell and House Blend with Julie Powers.
4:30 p.m. Junkyard Jane.
Cutters Point Coffee, 1936 Pacific Ave.
12:30 p.m. Alice Stuart.
Indochine, 1924 Pacific Ave.
12:30 p.m. HipBone.
urbanXchange, 1932 Pacific Ave.
2 p.m. Kersten Wenlock.
3:30 p.m. A Leaf.
5 p.m. Pablo Trucker.
6:30 p.m. Alex Tapia.
Paddy Coyne’s, 815 Pacific Ave.
Noon Irish folk music.
The Hub, 203 Tacoma Ave. S.
8 p.m. to midnight: After party with The Randy Oxford Band.