By JAMIE VERWYS
The sounds of harmonicas and slide guitars will fill the air at the Blues and Heritage Festival of the Southern Arizona Blues Heritage Foundation.
The nonprofit group works to keep Tucson’s blues scene vibrant by spreading music and culture.
The foundation plays an active role within the community, sponsoring Blues in Schools programs and hosting live music events.
Their largest annual event is the Blues and Heritage Festival, which takes place Oct. 19 from 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. at the Rillito Raceway Park, 4502 N. First Ave.
With live performances by local and visiting musicians, the festival hopes to share the heritage of blues with the community and cultivate a family environment for people to come together.
The foundation secretary, Rita Flattley, has worked at Pima Community College for 30 years. She teaches social-cultural studies at both Desert Vista and East campuses.
Flattley became involved with the Blues Heritage Foundation because she loves music.
“I am not a musician but I love music,” she says.
“I am interested in educating people to understand the roots of purely American music.”
After attending her first foundation meeting and volunteering, she was elected to the board.
“When I am working at the festival and look across the crowd and see smiling faces and tapping feet, it’s just a fabulous rush of happiness,” she said.
This year’s festival theme is “Blues for Pink.” In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, proceeds will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
A Chicago-based band, the Cash Box Kings, will headline the event in their first Tucson performance.
The band’s take on classic Delta Blues and blues of the 1940s earned praise from the 2013 Blues Blast Music Awards. Their album “Black Toppin’” was named Best Traditional Blues Album of the year.
Other performers will include Cholla High School Blues Standards, Baja Arizona Blues, Angel Diamond and the Blues Disciples, Johnny Ain’t Right and Union Stone Band.
Advance tickets are available at all Bookman’s locations or at azblues.org for $8. Admission costs $10 at the door. Children 18 and under are free.
For more information, visit azblues.org.