The North Atlantic Blues Festival lineup is usually set in stone by February but this year saw a changeup that will generate some excitement, especially for those of a certain generation. British blues rocker John Mayall, whose seminal band The Bluesbreakers included over the years such luminaries as Eric Clapton, Peter Green, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Andy Fraser and Mick Taylor, will take the Harbor Park stage at this year’s festival.

Festival co-founder and producer Paul Benjamin said he has been trying to get Mayall to the festival for years and had offered him a slot in the Saturday lineup early last fall. Mayall opted for another gig and Benjamin went ahead and filled up the roster. Then one of the festival performers had a European tour extended a week, leaving an unexpected opening. Around the same time, Benjamin heard from Mayall’s team that his schedule had loosened up.

“It took some scrambling, but we were able to move people around and put him right before Chubby,” said Benjamin, referring to Grammy Award winner Chubby Carrier who, with his Bayou Swamp Band, will cap this year’s festival.

That being the case, the revised lineup is as follows. Saturday, July 14 will open with Albert Castiglia, followed by the Royal Southern Brotherhood featuring Cyril Neville, Mike Zito, Devon Allman, Charlie Wooton and Mean Willie Green; Rick Estrin & The Nightcats; a Tribute To Koko Taylor featuring the late Taylor’s band The Blues Machine with singers Nora Jean Wallace, Melvia “Chick” Rogers and Jackie Scott; and Tab Benoit, Louisiana roots music master and a longtime Midcoast favorite. Sunday, July 15 will open with Charlie A’Court, followed by Anthony Gomes, Ana Popovic, Mayall and Carrier. Mark LaVoie and Dave Keller will perform between acts.

Advance tickets are $25 either day or $50 for the weekend; the Saturday ticket waives cover charges at the nighttime club crawl. To order and for more information, visit

Musselwhite DVD filming in May

For those who need an extra blues boost, Charlie Musselwhite is headed back to town for a concert and taping Tuesday, May 1 at 7 p.m. at the downtown Time Out Pub. Harp master Musselwhite was last in town three years ago and while the recording he did at that time came out well, the vibe was not quite what a DVD requires “so we’re going to make sure there’s plenty of room to dance,” said Benjamin.

Born in Mississippi and raised up in Tennessee, Musselwhite still plays raw and passionate. His blues/rock rebel vibe is reputed to have been the inspiration for Dan Aykroyd’s Elwood Blues persona and has helped Musselwhite win a pile of blues awards. He currently is up for Best Traditional Blues Male Artist and Instrumentalist-Harmonica Blues Music Awards; winners will be announced the week after he plays Rockland.

Tickets for this special Tuesday night show are $35, available by calling 596-6055.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or