Camp Street Blues Jam This Weekend

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – The first annual Camp Street Blues Jam, with its many musical artists, vendors and local art displays is set for this weekend, looking to draw hundreds and set a precedent for making Crockett a destination for music lovers. 

The festival was spearheaded by local businesswoman Robin Ogg, along with the Downtown Crockett Association (DCA). Getting the event put together was anything but straightforward, from booking and confirming artists to getting trash bins, bathrooms and vendors – along with seeking both city and state approval to close several streets this Saturday. 

This was all done with the intention of promoting the rich history of blues music in Crockett and trying to find a way to honor that history and create an event to be an anchor for the future. Ogg said of the pre-sale tickets sold online, only 5% were from Houston County, meaning the event is already proving to be a draw for tourism. 

Ogg said in the state’s blues community, the word is out – this weekend, Crockett will be the place to be. “We are getting such attention from folks all over Texas, I’ve had bands reaching out just asking if they can come as individual musicians and bands just to jam – not even paid. Anyone who wants to come and jam…bring a guitar!”

The three-day event will officially kick off Friday Mar. 8, with Crockett Elementary student’s art on display at The Life Center in downtown Crockett and a historical women’s art exhibit at the Crockett Library. That evening, Curt Christian and Johnny Riley will be playing at Bear Hall. beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The event sought and got permission to close several streets on Saturday for the festival and Crockett city council agreed to suspend the “open container” ordinance Monday, Mar. 4, allowing attendees to bring alcoholic beverages with them within the festival’s confines during the day Saturday. Signs will be posted on the exits warning people not to take their open containers past that point, since the ordinance is only suspended for a brief amount of time in that small area. 

City council had earlier approved closing the streets around Camp Street to host the festival for Saturday. Camp Street and Goliad (HWY 7) in downtown Crockett will be closed the entire day and much of the night from Second Street to Fourth Street (HWY 19.) Saturday is the real heart of the festival, with both planned shows and several musicians planning to come and play wherever they find a spot, in order to be part of the event. 

The focus is not just on the lineup of blues artists, but art in general, with the goal of not only promoting the area in general, but stimulating the economy during the festival. 

“We’ve invited multiple visual artists to come in – sculptors, painters and metal artists,” Ogg said. “We brought in the library and Mary Allen, so people can move around town a little bit. All the businesses open on Saturday should feel an influx of people walking around, to help bring some economy down here on the weekend to our Crockett square.”

The Crockett High School Jazz Ensemble and the High School Band will perform from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. outside the Crockett Grind and at Lightnin’ Hopkin’s statue. Bruce Middleton and Pipp Gillette will play on Camp Street from 2:45-3:45 p.m., before local Brent Price plays at 4 p.m. at FG Metalworks. 

Saturday evening sees the headliners take the stage with Southern Android, Donny Taylor, Kane Alvarado at Bear Hall beginning at 4 p.m., with blues artist Mathias Lattin starting to play shortly after 9 p.m.

Several visual artists will be showing their work at Mary Allen Museum, from 10 a.m.-12 p.m., with jazz music, art exhibits and dance at the museum before the main acts hit downtown. Crockett Library will also host a historical women’s exhibit from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. There will be other works by other artists on display inside the festival and in several of the local businesses. 

Sunday morning will bring a blues brunch with Brazos Blues Band at Bear Hall, kicking off at 11 a.m.

While you will need a ticket to the jam to access the closed parts of downtown on Saturday, tickets are only $10 for a three-day event pass, or for $25 you will receive premium admission, including a commemorative t-shirt. There will be no refunds, since the event will be rain or shine, but the forecast for Saturday looks perfect, with clear skies and highs in the mid-60’s. 

“Getting music back down on Camp Street is important, creating more of a live music environment and we hope this event puts us on the map,” Ogg concluded. “I would like to have music on the street, so people who roll through here on the weekends actually stop, spend some money and stay a little longer.”

The event represents an important intersection of sorely-needed impulses to the area, tying history, music, art, economic development and tourism all in one. Whether the festival sees visitors in their hundreds or in their thousands, it’s an important first step in putting the legend of Camp Street and the rich history of blues in Crockett on stage for the world to enjoy. 

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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