The Big Blues Bender grows without sacrificing its comfort appeal

Someone who won’t be singing the blues at this year’s Huge Blues Bender is creator/promoter A.J. Gross. The fourth edition of the specific niche music festival– set to take over the Plaza hotel September 7-10– has actually been sold out for three weeks, which marks the occasion’s second straight sellout.

But strangely enough, Gross says he made less tickets readily available this year– capability is topped at 2,200– which is the opposite of what the majority of festival organizers would have done following an effective previous year. “We did more in 2015, but people felt it was a little overcrowded, so we held it back a little and withheld single-day tickets.”

That level of fan consideration distinguishes the Bender from other music festivals. This isn’t Coachella, and absolutely nothing about it need to feel difficult. “It’s like our tagline: Everything is an elevator ride away,” Gross includes. “That’s where we originated from: all simple, all accessible.”

Bender-goers will have access to 5 stages, on which nearly 70 acts will play throughout the weekend, some more than once. Headliners include New Orleans legend Dr. John, R&B/ gospel icon Mavis Staples and blues favorites Tab Benoit and Walter Trout. Among the diverse program offerings: tribute sets to The Allman Brothers Band and The Grateful Dead, a panel commemorating women blues musicians, a movie screening and blues-themed yoga classes.

It’s a great deal of growth for a new-ish specific niche celebration, but Gross has actually had plenty of motivation and experience: more than 25 years promoting Vegas shows and 20 years going to the Telluride Blues & & Brews Festival. Most significantly, the concept for the Bender came as he viewed Gov’t Mule perform at an extensive resort in Jamaica. He knew he could do something similar in Las Vegas, with the exact same concentrate on convenience, however with less expense and higher convenience to music fans. “I wished to develop the kind of experience I desired somebody to produce for me,” Gross says. “I can’t do 16 hours of music. I wish to have the ability to hit my hotel space [and rest] then return down [for the shows]”

That explains the Bender’s popularity with tourists– who are coming from every state and 12 various countries and for whom the immersive occasion is a full-blown escape– and how it struggles to draw Nevadans, who comprise less than 10 percent of the attendance. That stated, Las Vegans will be represented onstage, including The Moanin Blacksnakes, Vegas Strip Kings, The Trevor Johnson Project and, playing the Grateful Dead tribute, Catfish John– which would be an excellent candidate for the brand-new music weekender Gross will go for the Plaza April 12-15: the Las Vegas Bender Jamboree, which will concentrate on bluegrass and jam bands.

Entirely, it’s an ambitious slate for somebody who was winding his music profession down simply 5 years earlier. Now, Gross has rekindled his enthusiasm for live music events, evidenced in the year he invests making certain the next Bender is better than the one before it. “I thought I was kinda done,” Gross states. “I thought Vegas didn’t make sense for me anymore. However I figured out the best ways to make a great brand name. And I’m trying to find the brand to grow. I want to bring more of these. I genuinely believe it’s an uplifting experience for everyone developed.”

Huge Blues Bender September 7-10, $499. The Plaza, bigbluesbender.com.

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