The deep roots of blues music become visible at the Cotton Blues Festival

Special guest Mad Morganfield performed with musicians from Macedonia / Photo: Zdenko Petrovski

Special guest from Chicago, Mudd Morganfield, eldest son of one of the most famous blues names of all time, Muddy Waters, headlined the list of participants at this year's 4th edition of the Cotton Blues Festival.

The festival was held on May 24 and 25 at the Youth Cultural Center in Skopje and showed that blues as a musical genre has deep roots in the world history of music, but also that blues listeners are truly dedicated audiophiles.

The festival was opened with a solo performance by master guitarist Muhammad Ibrahimi. Although it is difficult to define the musical phenomenon that Ibrahimi created, strong blues influences could also be observed in the fusion of jazz, world and ethnic music.

Muhammad Ibrahimi / Photography: Zdenko Petrovski

On the first night, the "Troja band" also performed, whose special guest of the evening was the Macedonian guitarist Igor Atanasoski, better known as Guru Hare. In addition to the blues standards, they also performed one of the most beautiful Macedonian blues themes, "My Guitar".

Troja group with special guest Guru Hare / Photo: Zdenko Petrovski

The first night of the festival culminated with a performance by the Danish trio "Trainman Blues", winners of several European blues awards and known for taking a contemporary, soul-spiced approach to blues music performance.

Performance by Adi Imeri / Photography: Zdenko Petrovski

Guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, Adi Imeri, opened the second night on May 25. He performed a solo performance inspired by the American gospel song popularized by Blind Willie Johnson, who dedicated his life to playing gospel and blues music.

The festival closed with special guest from Chicago, Mad Morganfield, with an energetic Chicago blues sound that was a fusion of his original material with songs by his cult father Muddy Waters. Members of the band that accompanied him were local musicians Nikola Petrovski (guitar), Sašo Gjorgjevski (harmonica), Oliver Josifovski (bass), Goran Poposki (drums) and Filip Dimischkovski (keyboards). Together they put on a real blues show at the Youth Cultural Center.

Mad Morganfield at "Cotton Blues Festival" / Photo: Zdenko Petrovski

Parallel to the music program, an art camp was held during the two evenings as part of the "Cotton Blues Festival". Macedonian visual and musical artist Igor Stanoevski together with artists Trajce Pavlov, Boro Arsovski and Dragan Milovanov created visual works inspired by the blues musicians who performed at the festival.

The art corner of the "Cotton Blues Festival" / Photography: Zdenko Petrovski

A special segment of the festival was the presentation of handmade acoustic and electric guitars. The master of handmade guitars, Yani Paveza, in addition to the presentation, gave a lecture on the way he makes them, and some of the guitars were also used in the concert performances of the musicians at the festival itself.

Presentation of "Paveza" guitars

With the successful fourth edition, "Cotton Blues Festival" showed a tendency to grow and expand the horizon of blues music coverage, to the joy and satisfaction of the dedicated audience.

(The text was published in "Cultural Press" number 180, in the printed edition of the newspaper "Sloboden Pechat" on 27-28.5.2023)

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