Hambone to offer shuttle bus to new site

Published 7:09 am Thursday, June 26, 2008

The 7th Annual Hambone Blues Jam, which has relocated this year to Holiday Park Golf Course in Hayward, has announced it will provide a shuttle bus for concert-goers in Austin.

The event, traditionally held the weekend before the Fourth of July at Torge’s Live, has finally responded to overwhelming feedback from attendees, performers and volunteers to relocate, and will host locally- and nationally-known blues musicians Friday and Saturday at its new site.

“We were pretty limited to stay where we were,” said Lynne Oldre-Mortenson, entertainment coordinator and advertising director for the event’s board of directors. “We had requests for camping … the main core is it limited the growth of the festival.”

Email newsletter signup

To accommodate both Austin and Albert Lea attendees, the shuttle bus will run to Fresco Joe’s and Countryside Inn in Austin and the Albert Lea Inn and Comfort Inn in Albert Lea. The shuttle is free, but A $2-$3 tip for the driver is suggested. If interested, contact Fresco Joe’s in the Oak Park Mall to get on the list or notify the front desk at the hotel.

Oldre-Mortenson said there has been some confusion as to where the event will be held this year. She pointed out there is no connection between the Blues Jam and the Rock-Try Music Fest, which will held from noon to 1 a.m. Saturday at Torge’s Live.

“We want to make sure people know very clearly that Hambone has moved,” she said.

With the addition of a second day of music, adjacent and on-site camping facilities and a prime spot between Albert Lea and Austin off Interstates 35 and 90, the Blues Jam hopes to attract more potential musicians and attendees.

The first-ever Hambone in 2002 — organized by Ron Meyer and Josh Diaz of Piggy Blues Bar-B-Que, George Dahl and Troy Thompson, former Torge’s Live manager — drew about 1,000 people to the event. Since then, Hambone has seen about 2,500 people each year.

With the added day, on-site camping and a KOA campground nearby as well as an anticipated higher number of vendors, the board of directors is expecting at least 3,000 to 3,500 this June.

Oldre-Mortenson said this may also help the board finally reach its goal: earning enough revenue to give back to the community through donations to school music education.

“This venue really kind of opened it up for us,” Oldre-Mortenson said. “We want to keep it non-profit for the benefit of the community.

“That’s always been our long-term goal,” she said. “It’s always been a break-even deal.”

Hambone will again host top-notch blues musicians, including Chicago reggae group Gizzae headlining the Friday lineup with Twin Cities band 8 Switch Assembly and Austin area acts Rocket Dawgs, Taxi and Split Shot, formerly the Bissen Brothers Band. On Saturday, Ronnie Baker Brooks, who was the opening act for B.B. King on tour, will headline with Mississippi Heat, Rochester’s Black Cat Bone, King Chubby, Big George Jackson and Austin favorite Plan B rounding out the lineup.

A new addition has also been announced: contestants in Fresco Joe’s Songwriters Contest will be performing at the Blues Jam. Winner Andrew Conway and his band will perform Friday and Saturday; Jayci Miller will open at 4 p.m. Friday; acoustic guitarist Leroy Patron will play under the tent Saturday afternoon, followed by Mike Olson at 2:15 p.m. All musicians are from Austin.

An Owatonna band, teens Men of the Fencepost, will also perform Saturday.

The 7th annual Hambone Blues Jam begins at 5 p.m. Friday, June 27 with bands performing until 12:30 a.m. Music begins at noon Saturday, June 28 and will also continue until midnight. Tickets are $10 per day and $15 for a two-day pass. On-site camping is $15 per day and $30 for the weekend; parking is $3. A KOA campground is also located nearby with full hook-ups and a swimming pool. Hambone will be held rain or shine; large tents will be provided for shelter.

Holiday Park Golf Course is located about seven miles west of Austin, off Interstate 90 and Highway 46, between Austin and Albert Lea.

For more information, visit www.hambonebluesjam.com or e-mail the board of directors at babybluz18@charter.net