After six years of organizing the Hambone Music Festival in Rochester, Lynne Oldre Mortenson has learned to look on the bright side.
That’s why the annual festival’s website advises patrons to bring sunblock to the event July 10 and 11 at the History Center of Olmsted County.
“We are very optimistic,” Oldre Mortenson said. After all, the festival, which has been plagued by bad weather since moving from the Austin-Albert Lea area to Rochester six years ago, last year changed dates to try to find better cooperation from Mother Nature.
Naturally, it rained. But only part of one day, and Oldre Mortenson believes the tide is turning. Good thing, too, because this year’s Hambone features an eclectic lineup of artists, some of whom are traveling a long way to play.
“We probably have our most stellar lineup ever,” Oldre Mortenson said.
The July 10 lineup consists of acclaimed and up-and-coming Minnesota bands, with the Fattenin’ Frogs headlining.
The July 11 lineup features Toad Strangler from Bowling Green, Ky., Beverly “Guitar” Watkins from Atlanta, the Stooges Brass Band from New Orleans and the Selwyn Birchwood Band, from Tampa, Fla., among others.
“We have more national acts than we’ve ever had,” Oldre Mortenson said. A successful winter fundraising event, as well as a couple of arts grants, helped make the beefed-up lineup possible. “We feel like we’re getting good local support and awareness,” she said.
Hambone also has widened its net, moving from strictly a blues festival to a music event that includes roots and Americana music, as well as music workshops, an arts and crafts market, instrument raffles and activities for kids.
Oldre Mortenson attends music festival around the Midwest and follows music newsletters to scout out bands for the festival. Her assessment of some of this year’s artists:
— The Fattenin’ Frogs. “They played our winter fundraiser and did an amazing job,” she said of this Twin Cities-based band. “They are young people with a vintage blues attitude. They’re really dedicated to roots music.”
— Beverly “Guitar” Watkins. “She’s a force of nature,” Oldre Mortenson said. Watkins, who is in her mid-70s, rarely tours anymore. How did Oldre Mortenson get her to agree to fly to Rochester for Hambone? “I just asked,” she said. “It all worked out. She’s still doing a little bit of touring, but she hasn’t been in Minnesota in a while.”
— The Stooges Brass Band and the Selwyn Birchwood Band, both of which have recently won major blues awards. “I love getting bands that are just breaking into the spotlight and giving them an opportunity,” Oldre Mortenson said.
The harmonica, songwriting and slide guitar workshops will start at 11:30 a.m. July 11. Open to all ages, no tickets necessary. However, Hambone tickets are required for the kids craft workshops, which will be held the afternoon of July 11 under a tent on the grounds.
The first Friend of Hambone Award will be announced the evening of July 11.
The complete lineup:
6 p.m. Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank (Duluth)
7:30 p.m. Jake Ilika and the Heavy Set (Twin Cities)
9 p.m. Jimmi & the Band of Souls (Twin Cities)
11 p.m. The Fattenin’ Frogs (Twin Cities)
12:30 p.m. Mark Cameron Band (Twin Cities)
2 p.m. The Gopher Tones (Rochester)
3:30 p.m. Toad Strangler (Bowling Green, Ky.)
5 p.m. Josh Hoyer & the Shadowboxers (Lincoln, Neb.)
6:30 p.m. Beverly “Guitar” Watkins (Atlanta)
8 p.m. Stooges Brass Band (New Orleans)
9:45 p.m. Selwyn Birchwood Band (Tampa, Fla.)
Playing in between set changes July 11 will be Doghouse Jon & the Misbehavers, and Brother Sun Sister Moon.