Paramount Blues Festival Celebrates Grafton’s Legacy
event, now in its fifth year, is named for the record companyrun as a subsidiary of afurniture company in this Ozaukee
County city from 1918 to the mid-’30s. The label's greatestcommercial successcame from its "race" records
line, which included some of the earliest recordings of such luminariesas Alberta Hunter and Charley Patton.
Blues Association President Kris Raymondassures
attendees that thegenre's diversity is
represented at the Paramount fest more than it
is at manyotherblues outings. From the acoustic sounds
by which its namesake label made itsreputationtomore
contemporary manifestations, Raymond promises, "We offer all types of
blues over the weekend, from country blues, Delta blues and gospel to what some
call ‘blues rock.’ You will find something you like no matter what you consider
to beblues music."
variety shouldbe an ideal fit for Milwaukee’s wide range of
blues lovers, including those who listen to the weekday afternoon and Saturday
morning offerings on WMSE-FM and theDJs
on African-American talk/blues/gospel AM signal WMCS.
and aficionadoswill not only be able to
experience a wide breadth of blues over the weekend, but they also will get it
at a bargain price compared to other events of similar size. Paramount has gone so far as to buck economic
trends because of its bang for the bucks.
attendance has always gone up, despite the economy,” Raymond says. This year,
two-day passes to the festival are $20 in advance; Friday-only passes are $10.
addition to getting their fill of music, attendees coming fromacross the country and overseas will
get some local flavor. Nationally known acts like folk bluesduoJoe
Filisko & Eric Noden,longtime sideman
guitarist/singergone soloZac Harmon and colorfully electric and
eclectic veteransLil’ Edand The Blues Imperials are rounded out
by some Wisconsin players. Milwaukee’sLeroy Airmaster will take the stage
withtwo of the city'ssenior bluesmen, Greg Koch and Jim
Liban. Among other Milwaukee-area acts taking the stage are October Soul, Maple Road and
Robert Allen Jr.& The Zoot Suits.Making the tripfrom Madison are hard-touringAaron Williams and The Hoodoo, hailed
recentlyby readers of the city's
Isthmusas the state capital's
favorite hometown blues band.
the same time people will be coming from all around to attend and play atGrafton's current contribution to blues
culture, theburg will be honoredSaturday for its past. A historical
markerto be placed atthe site of Paramount Records' original
factory locale will be unveiled at the fest as part of the national Blues Trail
Paramount has been gaining international notice as it brings accolades to the state. "We are getting more and more recognition from the blues community,” Raymond says. “The press increases each year.We feel it's our responsibility, given the history, that we include music recorded here on a regular basis.Those that understand the relevance of the history have been with us since thebeginning."