The final performance slot of the 2010 North Atlantic Blues Festival was filled this week and the complete lineup is now set. The great James Cotton, who headlined the inaugural NABF in 1994, will close the first day of the festival, Saturday, July 10; and multiple Grammy Award winner Keb’ Mo’ will close the festival Sunday, July 11.

“We’ve been trying to get Keb’ Mo’ for years,” said NABF co-founder and producer Paul Benjamin, calling from a blues cruise that included the post-modern bluesman.

Grammy Award winner James “Superharp” Cotton was opening for mentor Sonny Boy Williamson and serving as roadie for Howlin’ Wolf before he was old enough to enter a juke joint. He cut his first records at 15 and a few years later became Muddy Waters’ harp player. Cotton became his own bandleader in 1967, just in time to be embraced by the likes of the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Santana, Steve Miller, Freddie King and B.B. King. He has had multiple Grammy nominations and his 1996 “Deep In The Blues” album won for Best Traditional Blues Album.

Singer/songwriter and guitarist Keb’ Mo’ crashed the contemporary blues scene in 1994, personifying a new approach to the American music tradition. His distinctive sound embraces multiple eras and genres including pop, rock, folk and jazz, but it is equally indebted to contemporary music’s singer/songwriter movement. Longtime friends and collaborators include Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne. Keb’ Mo’ has won three Grammys for Contemporary Blues Album, been nominated again as many times and, a testament to his genre-bending approach, had a song nominated as Country Song of the Year. Like Cotton, he has won multiple Blues Music (originally W.C. Handy) Awards.

As is usually the case, every category of the Blues Music Awards, which will be awarded in May, contains nominees who will head to Rockland in July. This year, they include Johnny Rawls, nominated for both Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year and Soul Blues Album of the Year (“Ace of Spades”); Shemekia Copeland (Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year; Song of the Year for “Never Going Back to Memphis”); and John Nemeth and Michael Burks, both up for Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year.

Festival tickets are on sale online at Cost is $25 either Saturday or Sunday; $50 for the weekend pass; and $100 for the weekend pass with reserved seating in front of the stage.

The announced lineup is as follows. Saturday will feature Moreland and Arbuckle, Biscuit Miller, Preston Shannon, Ryan Lee, Johnny Rawls and James Cotton. Sunday’s performers will be Shakura S’Aida, John Nemeth, Michael Burks, Shemekia Copeland and Keb’ Mo’.

In between sets, Lydia Warren will play acoustic guitar. Warren, who has wielded the electric ax with authority a number of times in Rockland, also will open for Ruthie Foster when she plays the Strand Theatre in April.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to