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Hill Wheatley Plaza

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Hill Wheatley Plaza

Hot Springs, Arkansas

September 29th & 30th 2023

September 23-24, 2022

The Big Steam

Location: Hill Wheatley Plaza, Downtown Hot Springs

The September 23-24, 2022 event will feature a weekend filled with blues and roots music in Hill Wheatley Plaza in beautiful downtown Hot Springs. This is a free event with VIP tickets available for purchase here.

The lineup has been finalized and features headliners Anthony Gomes on Friday night and Bernard Allison on Saturday, as well a full lead up of performers that will get the crowd ready for these two blues legends to cap off the evenings. Other Friday performers include Trey & Jason, Port City Blues Society Players and Charlotte Taylor & Gypsy Rain. Saturday will feature Tullie Brae, Akeem Kemp, and Chad Marshall Band before Bernard Allison takes the stage.

Headlining Friday is Anthony Gomes, a #1 Billboard Blues Artist, is a triple threat force as a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. This, along with his high-energy shows and dynamic stage presence, make him one of the top draws on the Rock/Blues circuit today.

Blues Music Magazine says of Anthony Gomes, “Gomes’ authentic voice and the formidable guitar chops place him in the forefront of modern blues.”

Gomes’ new record Containment Blues, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart, is the culmination of a life spent honoring Blues traditions while never losing sight of his own identity. The Toronto born guitar slinger stands his ground as a creative artist and is eager to push the Blues back into the mainstream.

“My goal is to keep the Blues fresh, exciting and even dangerous," says Gomes. "I want to bring back the thrill longtime Bluesmen created in their day. At the same time, I think it’s very important for the music to grow and evolve.

”He has performed with the likes of B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Robert Plant, Heart, Sammy Hagar, .38 Special, Jonny Lang, Robert Cray and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Gomes recalled a conversation he had years ago with one of those legends. “B.B. King told me the Blues are like the laws of the land. They need to be amended to the times we live in,” Gomes said. “As an artist, it's very exciting to think that the Blues can be just as ground-breaking today as it ever was.”

Bernard Allison totes the same smokin’ six string shooter that his late father Luther Allison assaulted the blues with. Bernard is blessed with his father's soulful voice, spiritual devotion and a musical freedom, which experiments with the blues. Born in Chicago on November 26th 1965, he was the youngest of nine children. Bernard was first introduced to the roots of black music and the art of the electric guitar by his father, the late great Luther Allison. Like Ken Griffey Jr., hanging out in baseball locker rooms as a youth, Luther’s son was a kid running on stage throughout the band's set. Experiences like that profoundly affect one's aspirations. “That’s when I decided that I wanted to be up there with him. I think I was seven.”, says Bernard.

Bernard made his first appearance on record at age 13, when he played on a live LP his father recorded in Peoria, IL. “When we moved to Peoria, Dad came home preparing to do his live album in Peoria. I hooked up the amplifier and guitar in the basement and started playing his first record. Love Me Momma note for note. He freaked out and said tonight you’re gonna record with me. That was my first recording; I played ‘You Don’t Love Me No More’ and ‘Sweet Home Chicago’.”

“I didn’t start to play until I was ten years of age”, Bernard recalled. “I picked up the guitar and listened to my Dad's records.” While Luther was absent, his record collection played a major role in shaping his son's direction. Bernard listened to his dad's influences like Magic Sam, Otis Rush, T-Bone Walker, Lightnin’ Hopkins and B.B. King. He was also influenced by the next generation that followed; Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Winter and Jimi Hendrix.

Luther bought Bernard his first guitar, a Fender Stratocaster, but he told him to first get an education. At eighteen years old after he graduated from high school, Bernard got a call from Koko Taylor asking him to be her lead guitar player.

Bernard joined Koko Taylor’s Blues Machine for three years. “Koko and Pops Taylor taught me the do’s and don'ts of the road; being really careful and watching people. They were like my Mom and Pops, I was able to experience different cultures, it was a great education. We backed Willie Dixon and Koko was the only group I played with besides my father’s band.”

The event will be free to attend, but VIP tickets are available which will include premium seating for both nights of the festival and can be purchased at Organizers say dozens of volunteers will be needed and, of course, sponsors as well. Anyone interested in being a part of the great new event to keep the blues alive in Hot Springs should contact Mary Zunick at who is assisting with plans for the inaugural event.

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