Beat goes on at Annual Blues Festival in Onset

Aug 3, 2019

It was a beautiful, breezy and sunny day in Onset on Saturday and music fans took advantage of the nice weather to head out to Lillian Gregerman Bandshell to enjoy the 27th Annual Onset Blues Festival. 

Hosted by the Onset Bay Association, the event serves as a major fundraiser for the group, which keeps Onset lively throughout the summer with a series of concerts, shows, and family events. Last year, the Blues Festival faced the wrath of mother nature as a heavy rain repelled guests, causing the Association to lose eight thousand dollars. 

“Last year we were hit really hard with the bad weather, so we are not able to present the festival on a full-scale today,” said Kat Jones, Onset Bay Association president. “But I am very optimistic now, and I am happy to see that despite our setback, people are here and they are having a good time.” 

In an effort to save the festival, the Association did not charge guests an entrance fee. Music fans supported the group by donating money, browsing through the Association’s flea market table, and participating in silent auctions and 50/50 raffles for a chance to win a handmade guitar by David Gurney. 

The Onset Bay Association raised $10,000 on Saturday, but the operating cost of the Onset Blues Festival is between $20,000 and $25,000. Jones believes the Association will keep the event free next year.

“Scaling back the festival this year was a great idea. I think we will do the same next summer,” said Jones. “We won’t install a fence, won’t charge for the tickets and will seek local bands to perform.”

To bring the festival to life, several generous musicians from bands such as Born Yesterday Blues, Gil David Correia Trio, and Bagful of Blues offered to play and help out the Onset Bay Association.

Bruce LeBlanc, the drummer of the Born Yesterday Blues band first performed on the Onset stage 50 years ago and said he didn’t want to see the festival end.

“We don’t need any money, we just want to keep the festival alive,” LeBlanc. “This is the 27th year, so we want to preserve this great tradition.”

Many of the guests wished the same. David Wilson of Wareham has been attending the festival for the last seven years and said he is “always looking forward to enjoying blues on fresh air.”

“I think this festival truly unites our town in some way. We are all lively, fun people enjoying the music and eating ice cream on a nice sunny day,” said Wilson.