Superstition Blues, Brews & Arts Festival in Apache Junction on March 24
By Daniel Dullum
John Chavez – the “JC” in JC & the Juke Rockers – had a desire to share his enthusiasm for the blues and bring a unique event to the Apache Junction community.
A year ago, he started the Superstition Blues, Brews & Arts Festival to fulfill that goal. It went over so well, the event needed room to grow.
“The name ‘blues’ can be something of a misnomer in many ways. Some people think it’s boring stuff,” Chavez said. “No! It’s fun and exciting, and it’s a good time!
“People eventually come around and realize that about the blues. That’s our goal – to show everyone that the blues is fun!”
Toward that end, with a lineup featuring some of the Valley’s top blues bands, the second annual Superstition Blues, Brews & Arts Festival comes to Flatiron Community Park from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 24.
This year’s lineup starts at 11 a.m. with JC & the Juke Rockers and finishes with Big Nick & the Gila Monsters and Cold Shott & the Hurricane Horns. In between, attendees will hear Smokestack Lightning and Glenville Slim’s Juke Joint Blues Show.
Big Nick & the Gila Monsters have been around since 1993; their bio states “The chemistry of this group is apparent from the moment they hit the stage. These boys belong together like peas and carrots.”
Cold Shott & the Hurricane Horns was founded in 1990 by bass player Ted Kowal. For over 25 years, Shott & Co. have established themselves as one of Arizona’s longest running blues ensembles, with a mix of vintage blues, funk, classic soul, rhythm and blues, rock, and modern pop.
Formed in 2009, Smokestack Lightning is based on the Gila River Indian Community. “They’ve taken cues from their blues and rock forebears to form an unmistakable sound of pain, triumph, loneliness and joy.”
“Big Nick and Cold Shott are veteran stalwarts who have been rocking the Valley for around 20 years. Those bands have been at the top of the totem pole for a long time and helped pave the way for other blues bands.
“Glenville will be the special guest. He’s just high energy and extremely entertaining,” Chavez said. “Smokestack Lightning is a well-rounded band that represented Arizona at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.”
The first Blues & Brews Fest was held at The Hitching Post. This year, Chavez said, the event needed more room to accommodate fans and vendors.
“Overall, the first one went great,” Chavez said. “The Hitching Post was great, and we were pleasantly pleased at the turnout. We sold out halfway through the event, and we ran out of parking, showing us there was quite the demand for the product we were offering – blues and the arts.
“The vendors told me this type of event is what’s needed in Apache Junction.”
Flatiron Community Park, Chavez was told, has an attendance capacity for “around 3,000.”
“Capacity was a big factor,” Chavez said. “There’s a little more around being closer to midtown. And there’s nice green grass, which, I think, people will appreciate.
“As members of the Chamber of Commerce, we really wanted to showcase Apache Junction, not just the park, but all the other activities that are around in that part of the valley.”
Chavez said parking will provide a challenge, but noted there are options.
“We’re hoping folks will carpool, or take an Uber or Lyft to get there, or take a stagecoach, ride a horse, so we can save on the parking spaces,” Chavez said. “There is some parking across the street at the old Grand Avenue lot. There’s parking at the Chamber of Commerce and near Ace Hardware.
“So, we’ve reached out to help accommodate folks.”
This year’s festival will have “about 40” vendors, Chavez said.
“A variety of things, from arts and crafts to jewelry, to fine art, to homemade dog treats; a little bit of everything,” Chavez said. “And we’ll have some more ‘guy-centric things.’ That was a common comment last year – ‘What about something for the guys?’”
Chavez encourages people to bring their lawn chairs to the show. No ice chests or outside food is allowed.
“We’ve got the blues, and we’ve got delicious food with a half-dozen food trucks,” Chavez said. “Definitely something for everybody.”
Admission: $15 at the gate. Children under 18 admitted with an adult, kids age 12 and under admitted free.
Pictured above left to right are John Chavez, Smokestack Lightning, Big Nick & the Gila Monsters and Glenville Slim assembled over a photo of Flatiron Park