20th Annual Santa Cruz Blues Festival Festival

One of the most acclaimed and longest running blues festival on the West Coast the Santa Cruz Blues Festival [SCBF] celebrates its 20th anniversary this year at Aptos Village Park, a 10.3 acre “hidden gem”, on May 26th & 27th. This year is full of special treats for blues lovers and music fans of all ages and we are very pleased to announce two additional confirmed performers to this year’s already stellar lineup.

MUSICIANS just added to the roster: TOMMY CASTRO & THE PAINKILLERS has been added to the Saturday lineup. A veteran of the blues boom of the 1980s, his signature sound, fuses blues with R&B and roots rock ‘n’ roll. He is one of the blues’ top drawing artists and best-loved performers, known worldwide for his impassioned vocals, forceful guitar work, striking songwriting and galvanizing live shows. Castro’s contagious, boyish energy and his uncanny ability to connect one-on-one with his fans have made him one of the busiest touring artists. This year, he’s ready to Rock with a whole new band, The Painkillers!; THE HOLMES BROTHERS will open the show on Sunday. Over the course of their 30-plus year career they have been delivering magnificent old time, gospel-style R&B, and raw electric blues with unparalleled artistry and authenticity. Sherman’s bottomless baritone, Wendell’s classic soul singer’s wail and Popsy’s otherworldly falsetto do more than complement one another; on stage or in the recording studio, the three become like a mystical fourth entity, inexplicable yet sublime, a gift to the world of music.

Originally a one-day outdoor music festival focusing on Chicago and Texas blues back in 1993, the SCBF has grown into a premiere showcase for American roots music and blues giants. Over the years the warm and friendly stage has had the pleasure of hosting such legends as Ray Charles, Etta James, Buddy Guy, Bobby Bland, Albert Collins, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Joe Cocker and Bonnie Raitt. The festivals philosophy is that the future of the blues is not in imitating the past, but in finding new ways to express one of America’s original art forms. This year’s 20th anniversary show features a heaping spoonful of American roots music alongside a living history of the festival featuring a “best of the blues yesterday and today” showcase on Sunday.

The 20th anniversary party starts on SATURDAY MAY 26TH in a uniquely constructed day featuring the finest in American roots music and includes:



It’s been over 20 years since The Doobie Brothers have played Santa Cruz, so it’s fitting that they headline this special anniversary year.  With an extra large guitar case full of #1 songs, the Doobie Brothers have supplied the soundtrack to our lives for more than four decades. From “Taking It to the Streets,” to, “China Grove,” their distinctive sound has influenced generations of acts. This is an extraordinary opportunity to see one of America’s gems shine, up close and personal, in our tree lined amphitheatre. Break out the dancing shoes, it’s time to celebrate.



Los Lobos is a favorite amongst Santa Cruz Blues Festival attendees and we are happy to bring the pack back to Aptos Village Park. East LA sounds are what drives Los Lobos but their repertoire encompasses everything from blues to Hendrix to traditional Mexican music. The wolf has survived and is sounding better than ever.



Joan Osborne is familiar to everyone as the voice behind the 1996 hit “One of Us.” What will enchant you is her wide range of style and her dynamic delivery. From her work touring with The Dead, The Funk Brothers, and the gospel sermonizers The Holmes Brothers, to cultivating her own flamethrower of a band—Osborne is the girl next door with a big voice. Osborne’s latest project is a blues drenched album called Bring it On Home that is set to release on March 27th—and if home is where the heart is, get ready to fall in love.




Big Sam’s Funky Nation has the coveted opening spot to kick things off for the 20th anniversary with a set of pure unadulterated New Orleans jazz/funk. Big Sam was a member of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band so it’s no wonder that when it came time to lead his own band he chose the hottest players in Louisiana’s French Quarter. An engaging band leader, Big Sam also plays the trombone like a man possessed with the spirit of Louis Armstrong—ingratiating, inspirational and the perfect energetic up and comer to start the party.



SUNDAY MAY 27TH is a living history of the SCBF, from Chicago blues legends to an All-Star super group, the line-up features some of our favorite performers from over the last 20 years:



Jonny Lang has been wowing crowds since he was a teenager. Now at 31, Lang has matured into one of the finest blues players of his generation—bending the sounds of his Fender Telecaster into the voice of our ancestors and channeling the soul of Chicago blues. From playing with Eric Clapton to playing for President Obama–Lang is living proof that the blues are alive and well in the 21st Century. With a distinctive voice and unparalleled guitar prowess, Lang’s powerful live show is a fitting way to close out this year’s festivities. Along with Los Lonely Boys, Jonny Lang is the future of blues.


When a band creates a genre you know you’ve got an original act. Los Lonely Boys play their own brand of Texican Rock and Roll, apply one part Texas blues and Tejano, add some teary eyed country and shake it up vigorously. Famous for hits like “Heaven, Real Emotions and Diamonds,”Los Lonely Boys has recorded with Santana, Willie Nelson and just about everyone else in the industry. Los Lonely Boys are the Grammy award winning Garza brothers who have crafted uplifting harmonies that are riveting and rousing, Texas Tornados with a modern twist that will get the crowd up and on its feet.



Elvin Bishop has been a pioneer of the Chicago blues sound since the early 1960s. Bishop played with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and has jammed with everyone from The Allman Brothers and John Lee Hooker to his mentor, Little Smokey Smothers. James Cotton, one of the most famous blues harp players the world has known will join Bishop for a rare combination of peers challenging each other in a blues duel. Throughout his extensive career, Cotton has played with Big Mama Thornton, Howlin’ Wolf, Janis Joplin and Muddy Waters, together these two blues men will cast a spell on a perfect afternoon.



A former member of John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers and the Albert Collins Band the festival’s favorite prodigal son returns–this anniversary show marks the 12th appearance of the irresistible Coco Montoya. For this special event and to get things cooking onstage, Montoya is accompanied by friends and contemporaries Jimmy Thackery and Michael Burks. This trio of amazing guitar virtuosos was handpicked to play the anniversary show and will unleash an unforgettable anthem of blues. Jimmy Thackery is a road dog who has toured with The Drivers for millions of miles, while Burks is a supernova of blues licks–together with Montoya it’s going to be a wild ride.



Hardcore blues fans gather alongside music enthusiasts of all colors to share the privilege of seeing world class musicians in an intimate setting. Great acoustics in a beautiful outdoor environment amongst the friendliest crowd at any festival insures a perfect day of music. The SCBF is a locally produced event that embraces a green philosophy towards a sustainable community music festival–and is proud to be celebrating 20 years of sharing our passion for music and the blues with our Santa Cruz family.


Families have been staking out their claims of blanket-covered grass in the large field of Aptos Village Park for two decades, so it’s worth remembering to arrive early to secure your spot and to meet your neighbors!


Please arrive early to be ready when the gates open by 10am. Music starts at 11am and continues until 7pm just as the sun sets on the pristine location. Our food court features a variety of cuisines including vegetarian, ribs and seafood. Wine and beer is available as well as a variety of nonalcoholic beverages. An ATM is located inside the park for your convenience.


FOR TICKETS AND INFORMATION: www.santacruzbluesfestival.com

General Admission Tickets

ADULT One Day Ticket: $65

ADULT Two Day Ticket: $120

12 and under is $25 for one day and $40 for two days


Gold Circle Tickets

Saturday May 26th Single Day Ticket: $110

Sunday May 27th Single Day Ticket: $100

Two Day Ticket: $200


Saturday May 26th Lineup in order of appearance:
Tommy Castro & The Painkillers

Big Sam’s Funky Nation

Joan Osborne

Los Lobos

The Doobie Brothers


Sunday May 27th Lineup in order of appearance:
The Holmes Brothers

Coco Montoya with Jimmy Thackery & Michael Burks

Elvin Bishop with James Cotton

Los Lonely Boys

Jonny Lang


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