When Eddie “The Chief” Clearwater takes the stage as the headline act at the Hambone Music Festival in Rochester, organizers and fans will be hoping for clear weather.
The festival, which has been plagued by rainy weather in recent years, has moved out of its normal June weekend to mid-July, at least in part, organizers say, to try to change their luck with the weather.
“This was the St. John’s Block Party weekend, and somebody told us they only had bad weather once or twice in 10 years,” said Lynne Oldre-Mortenson, of the Hambone board of directors. “So that’s part of the reason we moved.”
Just as importantly, though, the festival moved from June to July to get away from Rochesterfest.
“Being a part of Rochesterfest has been great for us and an honor,” Oldre-Mortenson said. “But we wanted to see if we can stand on our own.”
This year’s festival will be held July 11 and 12 at the History Center of Olmsted County. This is Hambone’s fifth year in Rochester, after starting out in Austin and Albert Lea. The St.John’s Block Party ended its run in 2013.
Clearwater, the left-handed Chicago blues guitarist, is the headline act on June 12, finishing off a full day of music on the main stage. Music on July 11 goes from 6 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. The festival also includes workshops, an arts and crafts fair and food vendors.
The festival is intended as an event for all ages. “We’re working really hard to make it more and more family friendly,” Oldre-Mortenson said.
For kids, there will be face-painting on July 12 and a free blues harmonica workshop from which every kid will take home a harmonica and a song book. The harmonica workshop is a partnership between Hambone and the Minnesota Blues Society, with funding from the Rochester Arts Council.
That’s an example of how Hambone brings together various organizations to put on the festival. In turn, Hambone contributes a share of proceeds to the Von Wald Youth Group Home and gives ticket discounts for donations to Channel One Food Shelf. And, Oldre-Mortenson never gets tired of talking up the History Center of Olmsted County.
“It’s such a great resource for the community, and it’s a beautiful place,” she said.
In the end, though, it’s all about the music. The first day’s lineup consists of younger Minnesota artists that Hambone hopes to introduce to a wider audience. Included are L’Assassins, an all-female rockabilly/blues outfit, and Alex Rossi & Root City, a horn-based band.
Saturday’s main stage artists include not only Clearwater but also Big George Jackson, the funky blues of the Kelly Richey Band from Cincinnati and Rochester’s Annie Mack Band.
At least 50 volunteers help put on the festival, and the 12-member board of directors works year-round on planning and organizing.
“It’s a challenge, but people are so good-hearted,” Oldre-Mortenson said. “It’s a full year or more of planning for the next year’s festival. For me, it’s my way of making sure something like this is here to enjoy.”
If you go
What: Hambone Music Festival
When: July 11 and 12
Where: History Center of Olmsted County, 1195 West Circle Drive S.W., Rochester
Tickets: $25 weekend pass, $10 for Friday, $20 for Saturday. Children 12 and under and adults over 80 free. Discounts of $3 on weekend pass for Mayo Clinic employess, Minnesota Blues Society members, anyone with two non-perishable food items for Channel One Food Shelf.
July 11: Gates open at 4 p.m., music starts at 6 p.m. The C Notes, Mike Munson, L’Assassins, Alex Rossi & Root City, the 4 on the Floor.
July 12: Gates open at 11 a.m., music starts at noon. Main stage: The Swamp Kings, Dave Lambert & the Motivators, Big George Jackson, Annie Mack Band, Kelly Richey Band, Eddy “the Chief” Clearwater. Secondary stage: Cornbread Harris, C Notes Youth Jam.
Workshops: Blues for Kids Harmonica Workshop, 1:30 p.m. July 12 inside History Center. Free, but pre-register at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guitar and funk bass workshops by Kelly Richey Band, 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. July 12.