Blues and summer will go hand in hand in the Biscayan capital. Bilbao, whose history has always been closely connected with music, will add an international Blues Festival to its cultural programme and its second edition will be held at the end of the following month of July.

The second edition of Bilbao Blues Festival confirms the first bands of its line-up, formed by state and international artists as brilliant as Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, The Cinelli Brothers, Bette Smith, The Big Flyers, Koko-Jean and The Tonics, Los Mambo Jambo Arkestra and Mr. Sipp.

The event, which will take place from July 28 to 30 at the Arenal and will be completely free, has also chosen blues legend Rick Estrin (California, 1949), vocalist and harmonica player, as the II Bilbao Blues Festival Award. In his extensive career, Estrin has collaborated with some of the most important artists of the second half of the twentieth century: Windy City Johnny Young, Eddie Taylor, Sam Lay, John Littlejohn, Koko Taylor, John Hammond, Robert Cray, Muddy Waters... In 1976 he formed the band Little Charlie & The Nightcats when he met guitarist Charlie Baty, along with bassist Lorenzo Farrell and drummer J. Hansen. When Baty retired in 2008, he founded Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, with whom he won the coveted Blues Music Award for Band of the Year in the 2018 and 2021 editions.


The British band led by brothers Marc (lead singer and guitarist) and Alessandro Cinelli (drums) drinks from the Chicago and Texas electric blues of the 60s and 70s and stands out for its energetic live show combining blues, soul and rhythm and blues. Nominated in the 2023 UK Blues Awards in the category of "Blues Band of the Year", the combo completed by Stephen Giry on bass and Tom Julian-Jones on harmonica and guitar, starred in a brilliant debut in 2018 with their album "Baby Please Set Your Alarm", reaching number 2 in the IBBA (Independent Blues Broadcasters Association).


The daughter of a church choir director, Bette Smith has been compared to the mighty Big Mama Thornton and Bessie Smith, she possesses the classic elegance of Joe Williams, the dynamism of Koko Taylor and the energy of Janis Joplin, all wrapped in the magic of Billie Holiday. Her music is timeless (soul, rhythm & blues) with the Mississippi appellation of origin. An anecdote that gives an idea of her enormous talent is that, after hearing her sing in a church in Los Angeles, Ray Charles invited her to collaborate with him.


The band from Bilbao, The Big Flyers -formerly The BlueSpirits and later The Reverendos-, will open the festival. It brings together musicians of great prestige and experience; the "Reverend" Igor García on piano and vocals, Álvaro "King" Martínez on guitar, Javi Caballero on drums, Pedro Larrauri on double bass and David Blacky on saxophone. Lovers of the music of the 40's and 50's, they have shared the stage, together or separately, with blues legends such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Robert Cray, The Muddy Waters Band or Wanda Jackson.


Koko-Jean and The Tonics present in Bilbao their brand new debut album "Shaken & Stirred", in which they propose an attractive mix of soul, blues and rock and roll wrapped in the musical aura of New Orleans. Afro-Catalan vocalist Koko-Jean Davis (formerly of The Excitements) is a real hurricane on stage and is magnificently accompanied by "The Tonics", a trio made up of prestigious musicians from the Barcelona music scene.


Rock and roll, rhythm and blues, surf and swing make up the musical recipe of Los Mambo Jambo Arkestra, one of the most brilliant instrumental combos and with more magnetism of the state circuit. The Barcelona quartet made up of Dani Nel.lo (sax), Ivan Kovacevic (double bass), Dani Baraldés "Patillas" (guitar) and Anton Jarl (drums) will multiply the richness of their live performance at the Bilbao Blues Festival with the contribution of a dozen additional musicians; five saxophones, a six-piece brass section (three trombones and three trumpets) and a guitar.


Guitarist Castro Coleman (McComb, Mississippi, 1976), also known as Mr. Sipp, is a regular on the most prominent international billboards. He burst onto the American blues scene with a bang in 2014 by winning the prestigious Blues Challenge through The Vicksburg Blues Society and the "Gibson Best Guitarist Award" and "Bobby Rush" Artist of the Year awards from the Jus' Blues Foundation. A year later he was honored at the Jackson Music Awards in the categories of International Male Blues Artist, Blues Artist of the Year and Artist of the Year.


The first edition of the event gathered last year more than 65,000 people who enjoyed the vibrant concerts of Bob Stroger (I Bilbao Blues Festival Award) and the Chicago All Stars, Alejo Stivel, Shemekia Copeland, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Dana Fuchs, Fantastic Negrito, Travellin' Brothers, Wax & Boogie feat Drew Davies, Noa & The Hell Drinkers, Blues Triumvirate, Flamingo Tours, Micky & the Buzz.