Musical energy comes in lots of flavors at the 2017 Black Swamp Arts Festival

Flor de Toloache brings their contemporary mariachi sound back to the Black Swamp Arts Festival in 2017.


BG Independent News

The Black Swamp Arts Festival will bring back some favorites to the Main Stage to help celebrate its 25th year.

Those are favorites from previous festivals including the darlings of 2016 the all-female mariachi ensemble Flor de Toloache and zydeco rabble-rouser Dwayne Dopsie and his Hellraisers.

The festival runs from Friday, Sept. 8, through Sunday, Sept. 10 in downtown Bowling Green.

Performing Arts Committee chairs Cole Christensen and Tim Concannon also are confident some of the newcomers, such as Birds of Chicago and Afrobeat veterans Antibalas from the Broadway show “Fela!” are destined to become festivalgoers new favorite bands.

NikkiHill, shown here performing in 2014, will close out the 2017 Black Swamp Arts Festival.

The festival has now posted its full Main Stage lineup on with links to the bands’ websites. The schedules for the Community Stage and the Family Stage are still being put together, though as in the past several Main Stage performers will play second sets elsewhere.

The lineups include two acts considered the best in their genres.

The Irish band Lunasa, called “the hottest Irish band on the planet,” will perform at 8 p.m. Friday and the legendary gospel quintet Blind Boys of Alabama, who date back to 1944, will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday.

“They’ve done their thing for 70 years,” Christensen said. The Blind Boys represent the roots of the kaleidoscopic sound now called Americana.

“We’re just trying to bring high energy acts from every genre of music,” Christensen said.

Those acts can come from across the ocean, or they can come from across the street.

Each day of the festival is opening with a local band on the Main Stage.

Kicking off the festival and reviving the practice of having a top local act as openers will be the Matt Truman Ego Trip. The band has a psychedelic punk rock mix. Truman will return later for an acoustic show.

On Saturday the BiG Band BG, the Bowling Green Area Community Bands’ swing group, will open the show. Concannon said he liked what he heard during a recent concert at the Pemberville Opera House.

Following them will be Bobby G with Curtis Grant and the Midnight Rockers. The Toledo singer absorbed the sound of the blues will growing up in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta. As a teenager he moved to Toledo and brought his love of the blues with him. He was performing in Toledo clubs in the 1970s before taking time off to raise his family. He came back on the scene about a decade ago after retiring.

John Henry, a local blues impresario, says he’s “the real deal” and has recorded him on his Third Street Cigar label. (Bobby G and the band will perform July 15 at Howard’s Club H.)

On Sunday Tom Gorman and Tom Del Greco will warm up the Main Stage. Gorman has the distinction of having played at every festival on one stage or another.

Though not on the Main Stage, young fiddler extraordinaire Grant Flick will make the trip down from Ann Arbor where he studies at the University of Michigan. He’ll be joined by bassist Jacob Warren for a set on the Community Stage.

The festival has also benefited from recommendations by local music fans.

“There are a lot of people passionate about music and getting their feedback is valuable,” Christensen said. That’s how they heard about The Hiders, a country rock band out of Cincinnati who will play a 6:30 set on Friday and then an after-hours show at Howard’s Club H.

Birds of Chicago, Saturday, 4:30 p.m., also came by way of a recommendation, as did Whitehorse, a Canadian duo, suggested by Matt Reger, who chairs the Youth Arts Committee. The duo will play early Sunday on the Main Stage and also on the Family Stage.

Then there’s the artists like Dopsie, who so enjoyed his performances here in the past, he approached the festival about returning. Christensen and Concannon were more than happy to oblige.

He closes Friday’s show and then will play an after hour show at Howard’s Saturday night.

David Luning, a singer-songwriter who appeared in 2015 as a single. This year he’ll return on Sunday with a full band. He’ll play an after-hours set at Stone’s Throw Saturday.

Also on Sunday will be “Molsky’s Mountain Drifters, a trio steeped in the Appalachian tradition.

Closing out the festival will be another returnee bluesy soul rocker Nikki Hill, who is coming back after a storm shortened set in 2014.

“We always like,” Christensen said, “to end with a bang.”