FEBRUARY 15, 2018

Lisa Grissom, Producer Tall City Blues Fest




Tall City Blues Fest 2018 to showcase 24 performers in Downtown Midland, TX

Presented by Downtown Midland Management District


Hailed as the social and cultural event of the summer, Tall City Blues Fest will host a 24-act lineup this summer in downtown Midland, TX on July 6-7.


Each year, Tall City Blues Fest carefully selects the hottest blues acts, many of them still emerging in the blues industry, by paying close attention to which performers are winning recognition.


“We watch acts, sometimes for a couple years, before we make an offer,” said Fest Producer Lisa Grissom. “They are getting airplay, they are finalists in the International Blues Challenge, or being nominated and winning Blues Music Awards. They are doing all the things that put them on the right trajectory.”


The Blues Music Awards (BMAs), held each year in Memphis, are blues music’s highest honors and many of the acts at this year’s fest have been nominated for or won these coveted awards.


With nine themed showcases this year, the festival’s headlining set will feature performers with a combined total of two Grammy nominations, 11 BMA nominations, three BMA wins and the 2018 International Blues Challenge 1st place winner.



Tall City Blues Fest Headlining Set

LOCATION: Outdoor Main Stage (next to Doubletree)

WHEN: Saturday, July 7


Kenny “the Real Deal” Neal, from Baton Rouge, LA will headline Tall City Blues Fest 2018 and is a multi-instrumentalist on harmonica, guitar and lap steel with a gravelly, wise-beyond-his-years voice.


His 2016 release called “Bloodline” was Grammy nominated for Best Contemporary Blues Album, as well as triple nominated for a BMA in the categories Contemporary Blues Male Artist, Contemporary Blues Album and Album of the Year. He took home wins for Contemporary Blues Male Artist and Contemporary Blues Album. In 2009, Kenny Neal won a BMA for Song of the Year for “Let Life Flow”.


In total, he has accumulated more than 30 awards and honors throughout his career, including being inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2011, two Grammy nominations, eight BMA nominations, and multiple festival and foundation awards. For a complete list of his awards, visit his “About” page at


Vanessa Collier, a sax player from Philadelphia, PA, is a rising star in the blues scene quickly garnering awards and recognition for her work on saxophone and as a songwriter/vocalist. She will perform as the festival’s finale act, closing down the show following headliner, Kenny Neal.


For 2018, Vanessa is double-nominated for a BMA in the categories, Instrumentalist-Horn and Contemporary Blues Female Artist and was a 2017 BMA nominee for Instrumentalist-Horn Player of the Year. Other 2017 awards include a Billboard Top 15 placement for “Meeting My Shadow”, 1st place in the USA International Songwriting Competition, Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise “Jammingest Pro Award” and a Blues Blast Award nomination for the Sean Costello Rising Star Award.


Keeshea Pratt Band will be the opening act for the Saturday night’s headlining set. This eight piece band, hailing from Houston, TX took home 1st place at this year’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN where more than 250 musicians from all around the world compete for this coveted title.


Other showcases and performers featured at this year’s festival include:



LOCATION: Outdoor Main Stage (next to Doubletree)

WHEN: Friday, July 6


Lisa Mann (Portland, OR)

BMA Winner for Instrumentalist-Bass Player of the Year (2015 & 2016)


Annika Chambers (Houston, TX)

Triple BMA nominee for Best New Artist Debut (2015), Traditional Blues Female Artist (2017 & 2018)


Heather Gillis (Atlanta, GA)

Former lead guitarist for Allman Brothers drummer, Butch Trucks and his band The Freight Train.



LOCATION: Category 5 Ballroom (inside Doubletree)

WHEN: Friday, July 6


Eddie Turner & Trouble (Denver, CO)

Jonn Del Toro Richardson (Houston, TX)



LOCATION: Category 5 Ballroom (inside Doubletree)

WHEN: Friday, July 6


Anni Piper (Australia)

Kara Grainger (Australia)

Dany Franchi (Italy)



LOCATION: Category 5 Ballroom (inside Doubletree)

WHEN: Saturday, July 7


9th Avenue Noise (Denver, CO)

Ally Venable (Kilgore, TX)



LOCATION: Category 5 Ballroom (inside Doubletree)

WHEN: Saturday, July 7


Davis Coen (Oxford, MS)

Taylor Made Blues Band (Clarksdale, MS)



LOCATION: Category 5 Ballroom (inside Doubletree)

WHEN: Saturday, July 7


Norman Jackson Band (Springfield, MO)

Chris O’Leary Band (Hudson Valley, NY)



LOCATION: MVP Vodka Lounge (inside Doubletree)

WHEN: Friday, July 6



John Egan (Houston, TX)

Packrat & Lightnin’ (Daytona Beach, FL)

Mick Kolassa & David Dunavent (Clarksdale, MS)


PLUS West Texas Invitational Act Tony Barker (Abilene, TX) First Set



LOCATION: MVP Vodka Lounge (inside Doubletree)

WHEN: Friday, July 6


The Mighty Orq (Houston, TX)

Jeff Plankenhorn (Austin, TX)

E-Flat Porch Band (McKinney, TX)


PLUS West Texas Invitational Act Tony Barker (Abilene, TX) Second Set


“This is an exciting lineup with the state of Texas represented by nine different artists out of 24 on our lineup this year,” said Grissom.


In total, combined credentials for all 24 performers include 18 Blues Music Award nominations, six Blues Music Award wins, seven International Blues Challenge semi-finalists, three finalists and two top three finishers, plus two Grammy nominations.


Other awards and nominations this year include, Independent Blues Awards, Gibson Guitar Awards and Blues Blast Awards.


Tall City Blues Fest is the best blues fest in Texas and takes place in downtown Midland Friday and Saturday, July 6-7 followed by a gospel brunch on Sunday, July 8. For more information, including ticket information, visit


The mission of VisitMidland is to encourage economic growth by developing, promoting, enhancing and supporting Midland as a vibrant visitor destination. The above information has been provided by Tall City Blues Fest and distributed by VisitMidland. This event is projected to bring in $140,199 in estimated direct visitor spending to the Midland economy. For information on where to eat, play, shop, and stay in Midland, visit