One sure sign of summer in the Tri-State is the return of our favorite outdoor events, including the sweet sounds of the blues and the smell of barbecue floating through the air during the annual W.C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival at Audubon Mills Park on the riverfront in Henderson. The four-day festival is set to begin on Wednesday, June 14th, and will wrap up on Saturday, June 17th.

This year's event will mark the 32nd year of the festival which is named after the "Father of the Blues," William Christopher Handy who spent time in Henderson after meeting his wife there while traveling back to his home state of Alabama following a gig in Chicago. There is a bit more to William's story, but I'm paraphrasing here in the interest of brevity. You can read the full story on the event's website.

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2023 W.C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival Lineup of Performers

This year's lineup features several names that have graced the W.C. Handy stage in the past such as Blues 4U, Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band, and King Solomon Hicks, as well as a few newcomers including the group that will wrap up the festival on Saturday night, The War & Treaty, who have been making themselves familiar with the Country Music audience lately with appearances at the Grand Ole Opry and this collaboration with Brothers Osborne at the CMA Awards.

The lineup and current schedule for the 2023 festival are as follows, and of course, are subject to change as they say.

2023 W.C. Handy Blues & BBQ Festival Performers

  • End of the Line
  • Ally Venable
  • Southern Avenue
  • Dewayne Dopsie
  • Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band
  • Blues 4U
  • Tinsley Ellis
  • Al Green & The Hard Times
  • King Solomon Hicks
  • Bywater Call
  • Tommy Castro & The Painkillers w/ Special Guest Tinsley Ellis
  • David Jacobs-Strain & Bob Beach
  • Ghalia Volt
  • JD Simo
  • Matt Schofield
  • Shemekia Copeland
  • The War & Treaty

2023 W.C. Handy Blues & BBQ Festival Schedule

Wednesday, June 14th
  • 5:00 PM - End of the Line
  • 7:00 PM - Ally Venable
  • 9:00 PM - Southern Avenue
Thursday, June 15th
  • 5:30 PM - Dewayne Dopsie
  • 8:00 PM - Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band
Friday, June 16th
  • 12:00 PM - Blues 4U
  • 1:30 PM - Tinsley Ellis
  • 3:00 PM - Al Green & The Hard Times
  • 5:00 PM - King Solomon Hicks
  • 7:00 PM - Bywater Call
  • 9:00 PM - Tommy Castro & The Painkillers w/ Special Guest Tinsley Ellis
Saturday, June 17th
  • 12:00 PM - David Jacobs-Strain & Bob Beach
  • 1:30 PM - Ghalia Volt
  • 3:00 PM - JD Simo
  • 5:00 PM - Matt Schofield
  • 7:00 PM - Shemekia Copeland
  • 9:00 PM - The War & Treaty

As always there will be no tickets for the show because it's free to attend thanks to generous donations from local businesses who sponsor the event, as well as individuals who contribute with donations that can be made through the event's website. 100% of the proceeds raised each year go toward putting together the following year's festival.

As of this writing, no information has been provided regarding food and drink available on site.

[Source: W.C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival on Facebook]

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