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Blues on the River returning for 2nd year

Pictured, from left, are Mike Milligan, Robert “Tiny” Cook, and Shaun Milligan of MikeMilligan and Steam Shovel. The group will be performing at Blues on the River on Saturday.

By BRANDON TOWNSEND - btownsend@newsexaminer.com

After an impressive turnout last year, Robinson’s Whitewater Campground is preparing for another night of live blues music as their Blues on the River festival approaches Saturday, marking the second year in a row the campground has hosted the event.

The festival came about when a great deal of people requested that the campground host a blues concert, according to campground owner Duane Robinson. The campground occasionally features live music on its outdoor stage, nicknamed “The Front Porch.”

“We try to cater music to everybody,” said Robinson. “We like to have at least one major concert a year. This year we’ve got more nationally known bands.”

The acts featured at this year’s event will be widely recognized blues acts. A performance by Harvey Cook and the BlueTones will kick off the concert. Next, Mike Milligan and Steam Shovel will take the stage, followed by Django Knight. The event will conclude with a performace by Jay Jesse Johnson, who has shared the stage with supergroups such as Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Fabulous Thunderbirds and Foghat.

Mike Milligan says that he and his group, which are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, have performed together at the campground every summer for about 15 years. “It’s a nice, laid back, family friendly atmosphere,” said Milligan. “People aren’t going to see this anywhere else.”

Milligan and his group have performed with famous blues acts such as Double Trouble, a group founded by blues guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan. In 2002, Mike Milligan and Steam Shovel were named the “Best Blues Band in Indiana” by the Crossroads Blues Society of Indiana.

Milligan is given a high amount of creative direction over the festival. “I get to bring in bands that I really like,” he said, “And these guys are all approachable, all nice people. You can approach them and ask questions about anything you want.”

Music will start at 6 p.m. and last until 11:30 p.m. Tickets for the event can be purchased at the front gate of Robinson’s Whitewater Campground, 1614 Indiana 121.

Those attending should bring their own seating and blankets for the festival and are welcome to arrive early to socialize, play at the beach or partake in the concessions. The event is open to all ages.

“I always hear people complain in Connersville that there’s nothing to do. Well, here’s something to do,” said Milligan. “Plus, you’re going to want to meet these guys before we’re all too famous and you can’t approach us.”

For more information, contact Robinson’s Whitewater Campground, 765-825-4885.