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The Rockford Files: Tacoma Old Town Rhythm and Blues Festival

Eight stages featuring about 22 musical acts in Old Town Tacoma

Rafael Tranquilino of Maurice the Fish Records will be performing at the Old Town Park outside stage at 3 p.m. Photo credit: Steve Dunkelberger

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This is a busy month for Old Town Tacoma. The Fourth of July drew thousands of South Sounders to the Freedom Fair along Ruston Way for an all-day celebration featuring live music, food vendors a spectacular air show - and, of course, the annual fireworks display off the barge. And Saturday, even before your stash of leftover bottle rockets and other questionably-legal explosive have been half-heartedly lit off, Old Town will again be chalked full of activity for yet another 13-hour celebration.

The Tacoma Old Town Rhythm and Blues Festival, founded as the Tacoma Old Town Blues Festival in 1991 by Ted Brown and Mike Mitchell, will add more rhythm to the annual beloved blues festival. Saturday will find the festival back in Tacoma's Old Town Park on North 30th, with eight stages featuring about 22 musical acts, along with many vendors and food.

Brown got the idea for blues event when he felt there was a lack of music festivals in Tacoma. A frequent concertgoer, traveling to Seattle and beyond for shows, Brown felt Old Town would be a natural setting for blues morning to night. This year's music schedule, as well as the festival relocating back into Old Town Park, may make 2013 its strongest year to date.

Brown also books shows every Sunday at The Spar, and has acquired many contacts with booking agencies that allows him to bring national acts to Tacoma.

"I try to bring music from the outside ... a lot of the bands I'll bring out of Seattle or Portland, that way the audience gets to see something fresh and new," explains Brown.

The festival will begin at 9 a.m., and a full 13 hours of entertainment will ensue with the music lasting all the way until midnight. This year headliners DoctorfunK will be making their way down from Seattle to perform at the Slavonian Hall stage at 8:30 p.m. The 10-piece ensemble is a premier tribute band of the Northwest, performing music by Tower Of Power, James Brown, Earth Wind & Fire and others.

Some other familiar names will be making appearances as well. Rafael Tranquilino of Maurice the Fish Records will be performing at the Old Town Park outside stage at 3 p.m. Also on the outside stage will be guitarist Nolan Garrett, scheduled at the 6 p.m. slot. Steve Cooley and the Dangerfields, Sweetkiss Momma, T Town Aces, Dean Reichert Band, Palmer junction, Billy Stoops and many others will perform in the Old Town venues, all a stone's throw away from each other. The popular 9:30 a.m. pancake breakfast show will carry Johnny Long's live soundtrack.

This year's event will benefit the Pierce County YWCA.

"I was approached by the YWCA, and I think they are a very worthy organization, and they've been a great partnership for putting this festival together," says Brown. 

The full event schedule as well as ticket information can be found on the festival's website

LINK: Explore Old Town Tacoma

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