Soul Shine Blues Festival back in Bascom Saturday

FOSTORIA – The signature fundraiser for First Step Healthy Family Resource Center is to take place again Saturday at the Meadowbrook Park Ballroom in Bascom.

The 21st annual Soul Shine Blues Festival features live music, food, guitar raffles and gift certificates, spa baskets, tools, original jewelry designs, handmade pottery, wine, chocolate and more in the Top Hat raffles.

Tickets cost $20 and proceeds help First Step provide shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children, as well as a 24-hour support line, advocacy and outreach and support programs for men, women and children.

The festival is set for 4-8 p.m., with doors opening at 3 p.m.

This year, bands featured are Mississippi Heat, Rocky Lawrence and Bud Mowery & the All Star Blues Band.

“First and foremost, this festival supports the programming offered at First Step,” Tom Tobin, resource coordinator at First Step, said. “But there is a fellowship and a unique atmosphere created at Soul Shine than other venues. We get different types of people and people bring their kids.”

Tobin said this festival also helps people become more aware of First Step and the work it does.

“And in what better way than with the blues?” he said.

Tobin said First Step and the blues have something in common.

“The blues speaks to that desperation and people’s most desperate hour,” Tobin said. “It is liberating. We here at First Step help those to tell their stories and be able to move forward.”

Mississippi Heat is a seasoned Chicago blues band, releasing 11 albums over the last 25 years. The band is influenced by the Chicago blues of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Etta James and Big Walter Horton.

Mississippi Heat consists of Pierre Lacocque, band leader; Inetta Visor, lead singer; Michael Dotson, guitar; Kenny Smith, drums; and Brian Quinn, bass.

Rocky Lawrence is known to be the walking persona of the country bluesman Robert Johnson. His musical journey began at the age of 9 with his first instrument, the trumpet. His inspiration comes from Louis Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters and Johnson. In 2002, Lawrence played with Hubert Sumlin. He also has collaborated with Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones and has opened for and played with “Honeyboy” Edwards.

Completing the line-up of this year’s festival is Bud Mowery & The All Star Blues Band. The All Star Blues Band consists of Glenn Roddy, vocals; John Whitlow, keyboards; Steve Wilson, harmonica; Dave McNary, bass; and Gary Burns, drums.

Mowery is a local guitarist who started playing 46 years ago. He and the others created this band specifically for the Soul Shine festival. Inspiring Mowery are Johnny Winter, Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Robin Trower and Billy Gibbons.

Mowery and the All Star members have played in local bands such as Brazin Bull, Xpando Band, Mars, Free Wild, Anthem and The Mongrels.

“Music is a universal language that speaks to everyone,” Terri Mercer, executive director of First Step, said. “Blues music was created out of despair and discomfort and was a way people dealt with their problems. It fits with our mission here at First Step to help those that feel their lives have gotten out of control. In a variety of ways, music unites us.”

In addition to live entertainment, Jason Carter of Hawg Sauce Catering is to donate and prepare the ribs, chicken and pulled pork. Elaine Bruggeman of Main Street Deli of Findlay is to have her seafood jambalaya and red beans and rice.

This year, an Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop guitar with hard case is to be raffled off along with a cigar box guitar made by Roger Jones. Also, unique gift baskets are to be raffled off.

For more information, visit

soulshineblues.com.