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Charlie West Fest brings hot food, cool blues to town

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jazmine Bailey had a mouth stained blue from cotton candy and a snow cone while she danced around Saturday at the fifth annual Charlie West Blues Fest.

The 20-month-old toddled around near the Thornhill Auto Group Main Stage, waving green and purple Mardi Gras beads on her arm as local band Lascivious Deacons played a bluesy tune.

"It sounds good," Jazmine's mom, Connie Staunton, said.

Visitors enjoyed food, drinks and live music at the festival, which runs through Sunday at Haddad Riverfront Park in Charleston. The event honors members of the military and their families and is affiliated with the Wounded Warriors Project, which provides awareness and aid for injured service members.

Don Stiver took a train from Philadelphia to attend the festival because of the experience he had at last year's event.

"I had absolutely the time of my life," he said. "It's perfect."

Stiver sported a T-shirt and baseball cap from the 2011 festival and had a few bags of merchandise lined up on a bench along the river.

His preferred bands -- Johnny Rawls, and Rod Piazza and The Mighty Flyers -- played Friday night, but Stiver was looking forward to the rest of the musical acts.

"Everything else is icing on the cake," he said.

The crowd at the festival was sparse Saturday afternoon. For several people, the main draw was the chance to hear the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band play in the evening.

That's part of the reason Ron Esser, who runs a nightclub called Moondog's in Pittsburgh, was there. He'd spent the day "looking at how beautiful the city is," he said, but he was heading toward food -- probably the home fries with onions and peppers, he said.

Similarly, Debbie Wheeler had her plan for the afternoon in place.

"Eat, listen to music, eat," she said, laughing.

Jim Bucchianeri, who ran the kettle corn stand, took time to sample the festival's other cuisine.

"I've had a little bit of something from just about everybody," he said.

Four-year-old Charlie Meadows had already eaten popcorn and ice cream and said he might have some of his mom's funnel cake.

He paraded around the main stage patio with his parents, carrying a green cardboard fan and a Y-shaped branch.

"This is my walking stick," he said, using it to point out the booths.

His opinion about the festival was firm.

"It's so fun," he said.

The event continues Sunday, when the Thornhill Auto Group Main Stage features:

| The Tudor Biscuit and Blues Brunch with Lascivious Deacons, from 10 a.m. to noon

| Shaun Booker Band, at 1 p.m.

| The Carpenter Ants, at 2:45 p.m.

| Slim Fatz, at 4:20 p.m.

| Fiona Boyes, at 5:55 p.m.

| Ruthie Foster, at 7:30 p.m

Brother Charlie is slated to play on the Mardi Gras Casino and Resort Second Stage, located on Kanawha Boulevard at Court Street, at 2:25 p.m., 4 p.m., 5:35 p.m. and 7:10 p.m.

The festival is free and open to the public.

Reach Alison Matas at alison.matas@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.


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