Wainwright boogies to Roadhouse Bluesfest

Victor Wainwright and The WildRoots will headline Saturday’s Central Delaware Blues Society Roadhouse Bluesfest Saturday at Jonathan’s Landing in Magnolia.  (Submitted photo)

Victor Wainwright and The WildRoots will headline Saturday’s Central Delaware Blues Society Roadhouse Bluesfest Saturday at Jonathan’s Landing in Magnolia. (Submitted photo)

To watch Victor Wainwright perform his version of the boogie-woogie blues on piano, it’s hard to believe he ever had any other occupation.

But the 35-year-old multi-award-winning musician actually spent three years as an air traffic controller at the Memphis International Airport.

“Yeah that didn’t really work out,” he said with a laugh Wednesday afternoon as he was driving to a gig in Richmond, Virginia.

Having always grown up around blues — his father, grandfather and uncle were blues musicians — it seemed like a natural fit for him to go into the music business. But after high school, he attended Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida for degrees in air traffic management and psychology.

“With my generation, there was a lot of pressure to get a college degree. When a parent looks at what a child is doing, they hope for a great future for him or her and music is considered a side job,” he said.

Best Bets logo -NEW“But after about three years I started to realize I couldn’t live without the music and it just pulled me away.”

The decision has paid off as Mr. Wainwright has gone on to win the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year award three times at the Blues Music Awards ceremony and just this past May took home the BMA B.B. King Entertainer of the Year award and his band The WildRoots was named Band of the Year based on the strength of its 2015 album “Boom Town.”

He and The WildRoots head to Magnolia Saturday to headline the third annual Roadhouse Bluesfest at Jonathan’s Landing, presented by the Central Delaware Blues Society.

Other acts on the bill include Barrelhouse at noon, Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark Band at 1:20 p.m., Deb Callahan Band at 2:40, Ron Spencer Band at 4:15 start and Betty Fox Band at 5:50.

Victor Wainwright and The WildRoots close out the day starting at 7:25 p.m.

Mr. Wainwright says the awards are nice but he mainly uses them for motivation.

“I’m very proud to get them but at the same time, it’s a reminder that I can’t let anyone down each time I perform,” he said.

His hard-driving, take-no-prisoners style of play has offered up many comparisons to blues great Dr. John for both his imposing figure and his soulful sound.

“I just enjoy trying to keep up with my band,” he says modestly.

“When they are playing, I start to hear something and can’t help but enjoy what I’m playing and the energy gets going.”

He credits his family as being his biggest influences.

“My grandfather taught me how to play piano and my father taught me how to sing,” said the Savannah, Georgia, native who lives in Memphis.

“My uncle played bass. They had a band since before I was born. My dad also played drums and guitar.”

He said he grew up listening to rock ‘n’ roll piano greats such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry but his interest widened.

“And then I started getting into honky tonk country and that led me to folks like Willie Nelson, which took me to roots music and then around to blues, which I think is hard to classify,” he said.

“I think of this style as more roots music than anything else.”

He said he fights to erase the stigma of blues as just being “loud bar music.”

CDBS local IBC 2015 winners Swamp Dog (002) by .

The Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark Band, winner of last year’s Central Delaware Blues Society Battle of the Blues Bands, will play Saturday’s Roadhouse Bluesfest at Jonathan’s Landing in Magnolia. (Submitted photo)

“This is a true American art form but people get that stigma in their mind and it’s hard to get rid of it for some people. Although we have very loyal fans, it’s important for it to continue to grow,” he said.

“You have groups like the blues society in Delaware who do a great job promoting it. They have the right mindset. They carry the torch with these festivals like the one on Saturday. It’s a great opportunity to get this music out of the bars or the late-night theater shows and make it a real family affair.

“This gives the younger people the exposure to it so that they can become interested and carry it forward.”

Gates open Saturday at 11 a.m. Jonathan’s Landing is at 1308 Ponderosa Drive in Magnolia.

The festival is rain or shine and blankets and chairs are strongly encouraged.

Food and drink will be provided by vendors and Jonathan’s Landing. Proceeds go to support the Central Delaware Blues Society winner’s trip to

Memphis for the International Blues Competition.

Last year, festival act Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark won the trip.

Tickets are $30 for the public and $25 for blues society members. They can be purchased at the gate or by visiting centraldelawareblues.com.

Low Lily at Cooldog

The Cooldog Concert Series will present Low Lily tonight at 7:45. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Donations are $15 plus a covered dish to share.

The string and vocal trio Low Lily (formerly Annalivia) explores the roots and branches of American folk music with traditional influences and modern inspiration that weaves together a unique brand of acoustic music.

Thomas Plummer, a 21-year-old singer-songwriter from Dover, will open the show

For more information or reservations for the show near Smyrna and Kenton, visit cooldogconcerts.com.

‘Love and Deceit’ at Schwartz

September Tenth Films, in association with Warren A. Rhodes Films, will have the world premiere of their newest film “Love and Deceit” at the Schwartz Center for the Arts Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

In the movie starring Rosalind Russell, Will Wilmore III and Rodney Davis, the Harrisons have the perfect marriage, but Kenneth has been keeping secrets.

Tickets are priced $10-$15 for the movie only with a special $35 VIP package that includes being photographed with the stars on the red carpet from 4:30 to 6 p.m., a catered reception with a buffet plus the movie.

For tickets, visit schwartzcenter.com, call 678-5152 or stop by the box office at 226 S. State St., Dover.

Fireworks at Comic Con

Kent County Tourism Corp. will provide fireworks in conjunction with Dover Comic Con on Aug. 5.

The fireworks will start at dusk on Legislative Mall. That date will stand as the makeup for the Dover Days fireworks that were canceled due to rain on May 6.

“Kent County Tourism is happy to be able to add fireworks to the Comic Con lineup due to the Dover Days display being rained out,” said Wendie Vestfall, executive director for Kent County Tourism.

“Comic Con is a great family event. Year after year the attendance continues grow and the fireworks will make a great addition to the activities they have planned. It’s a perfect fit for our rain date of Dover Days fireworks.”

The following events tied to Comic Con will take place on Aug. 5:

5-8 p.m.: Con Artist: Comic Con Inspired Art Reception at Dover Art League.

Comic Con Parade comes down Loockerman Street ends at Lookerman Way Plaza

6:30-8 p.m.: In Harmony Concert presents Captain Blue’s Grass Band on Lookerman Way Plaza

7-9:15 p.m.: “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” at the Schwartz Center

8:30 p.m.: Lantern tour of the Dover Green (Tour starts at John Bell House)

Dusk: Fireworks provided by Kent County Tourism Corp.

Comic Con then goes in earnest the following day with artists, vendors, authors, cars, panels, crafts, gaming, fan groups and more.

For more information, visit www.cityofdover.com/comic-con.

Kent County arts funding

The Kent County Fund for the Arts recently awarded $21,300 in grants to local art programs and organizations that help to foster growth of the arts in Kent County.

The recipients of the 2016 KCFA Grant Cycle were as follows:

• Biggs Museum of American Art $1,500

• CERTS Inc. $1,200

• Delaware Choral Society, $1,500

• Delaware Friends of Folk, $2,000

• Dover High School, $1,600

• Dover Public Library, $1,500

• Dover Symphony Orchestra, $1,500.00

• Inner City Cultural League, $700

• Mispillion Art League, $1,200

• Schwartz Center for the Arts , $1,600

• The Children Theatre Inc., $2,500.

• VSA Delaware, $2,000

• Wesley College, $2,500

The fund is an arm of The CenDel Foundation, which works toward improving the quality of life for the people of Central Delaware and increasing the spirit of giving in the community.

Their role includes grant making, helping to foster innovative projects and increasing long-term charitable giving.

For information, call (302) 724-7538 or visit www.cendel.org.

Now Showing

This weekend in theaters is the all-female reboot of “Ghostbusters” and Bryan Cranston in the true-life crime thriller “The Infiltrator.”

New on DVD and download starting Tuesday is “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and the Miles Davis biopic starting Don Cheadle “Miles Ahead.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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