Blue skies and blues music are a great combination for a Saturday afternoon in September, and that’s what we had this past weekend in Denton, Texas for the annual Denton Blues Festival.

Denton is known as a music town, with artists such as Norah Jones, Don Henley, Sly (of The Family Stone), Edie Brickell, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Roy Orbison hailing from or spending time in Denton. This fact owes many thanks to the University of North Texas, with a renowned music program, especially when it comes to jazz and percussion.

Every spring, people come from all over to experience the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival, which has wonderful jazz acts all weekend, and typically a nationally-known headliner on Saturday night.

But when it comes to the blues, it’s hard to beat the Denton Blues Festival.

It’s a one-day event that goes all afternoon and evening, and takes place in Quakertown Park, just north of the town square and historic Denton County Courthouse. It’s a beautiful setting surrounded by trees, with plenty of food vendors mixed in, and lots of room to picnic, sit, stand and dance to the tunes.

I was most looking forward to Dwayne Doopsie & The Zydeco Hellraisers, because in addition to jazz and blues music, I do love some jammin’ zydeco music. Nothing makes people get up and move like this native flavor of our neighbor Louisiana.

Blues is such a great genre of music, because it can be played with a wide array of instruments, and you will find songs about every aspect of life – from the mountaintops of joy, to the depths of sorrow. It has a way of hitting you right in the soul. They say the great singers are great because they make people feel what they feel inside, and blues music has to be at the top of the list for genres that do that too. Whether it’s a guitar, a piano, saxophone, harmonica, an accordion (like this weekend), or just a voice and a microphone, blues is about the soul of the music more than the instrument.

Texas has a fantastic legacy of blues musicians, from Lightin’ Hopkins to Stevie Ray Vaughn, T-Bone Walker, Big Mama Thornton, Johnny Winter and even Denton’s own Pops Carter, who has a statue in the very park this festival took place.

There was a fun crowd out there this weekend having a great time, dancing, toe tapping and head bobbing along with the beats.

I didn’t try any of the food that was available, but it sure smelled and looked great. There was plenty to choose from, from barbecue to fried catfish, burgers and bratwurst.

There’s a different lineup every year for this music festival, and from my experience it’s always a great time to get outside, get some sunshine and listen to some quality blues music. Check it out next year!

Simon Trask
Author: Simon Trask

Simon loves Texas and the Great Outdoors. From East Texas pines to West Texas mountains, he calls North Texas home but is always ready to float a river in Hill Country or go fishing on the Gulf Coast. Simon loves camping and road trips as well, whether it's cruising Highway 287, 82, 69 or 281, that's the true way to see what Texas is all about!

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