Prairie Du Chien, WisconsinJuly 26-27, 2019
By Phillip Smith; August 3, 2019
I had an absolutely amazing time during the two days I spent at the Prairie Dog Blues Festival this year. Besides the spectacular music, there was an amazing comradery between the blues fans. Upon first arrival on Friday evening, I staked out some prime territory within the beer tent to see one my favorite acts Ghost Town Blues Band. They tore it up on four separate sets that evening, playing all the songs I wanted to hear. Their covers of “Come Together”, “Whipping Post”, and “Statesboro Blues” were superb as always. It was great to catch up with those guys again. Between the GTBB sets, I made sure to shimmy over to the main stage to see more outstanding performances from Tas Cru, Reverend Payton’s Big Damn Band, Toronzo Cannon, and Nikki Hill.
Tas Cru and Mary Ann Casale teamed up to dazzle me with delight on “Heal My Soul”. Casale cowrote this one with Tas for his acclaimed Memphis Song album. It was cool to hear “Dirty Swerve” from Reverend Peyton. That one definitely put the fans in dance mode. Toronzo Cannon brought some of the best blues Chicago has to offer, and Nikki Hill commanded full attention for her powerful for her set of rockin’ soul. She even busted out a little AC/DC with a nod to Bon Scott on “If You Want Blood / I’m a Rocker”.
On the second day of the festival, I headed directly to the main stage to hear Craig Erickson and the Roadhouse Rockers. The man is a powerhouse when it comes to playing guitar, and it is always a pleasure to see his band play. ZZ Top tribute band Eliminator from Chicago lit up the crowd with nearly ninety minutes of dazzling showmanship and spot-on covers. They were so fun to watch and hear. I was so glad to have finally caught Eliza Neals in concert. She has been on my radar ever since reviewing her 10,000 Feet Below album. This is another act which I highly recommend. Neals definitely puts the ‘rock’ in blues-rock, with her amazing vocals. Popping over to the beer tent to hear The Kris Lager Band was a lot of fun as well. The tent was filled to capacity, as they played their unique style of funky blues. The evening was capped off with a searing performance from Anthony Gomes. The first time I saw Gomes, he was opening for the king of blues himself, B.B. King. This my third time seeing him, and he keeps upping his game every time.
Prairie Dog Blues Festival, which is held annually on the historic St. Feriole Island in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, is very organized and cuts no corners when it comes to booking talent. I will definitely make a point of returning.
* All Photos by Phillip Smith