NORTH ADAMS -- MCLA Presents!, a performance series of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), hosts the eighth annual Blues and Funk Festival on Friday, Feb. 1, and Saturday, Feb. 2, at 7:30 p. m. in the Venable gymnasium on the MCLA campus.
The first night will kick off with R&B/hip hop artist Maya Azucena. The award-winning MCLA step team, NEUS, will open the show. Khris Royal and Dark Matters will headline the second night, with local blues group Arthur Holmes Band getting the evening started.
The festival will also feature food and drink for sale, as well as opportunities to connect with local organizations and MCLA clubs, according to Jonathan Secor, MCLA’s director of special programs.
In the spirit of keeping great performances affordable, a special festival ticket price will be offered this year - the $15 combo ticket. The two-night festival will be full of fun, local food, vendors, activities sponsored by on-campus clubs, and - above all - dancing, Secor said.
Having just performed to sold-out crowds at the world famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, singer and songwriter Azucena returns to MCLA for the second time, on the first night of the festival. As a cultural ambassador from Brooklyn, N.Y., she brings energy and a unique blend of hip-hop, soul, jazz, dance, and reggae, as she spreads her universal messages of love, survival and hope on Friday night, Secor
Opening for Azucena will be MCLA’s very own step team, NEUS. This student group creates complex beats and synchronized movement that captivate audiences, according to Secor.
Khris Royal and Dark Matter will take the stage on Saturday, the final night of the festival. This New Orleans funk band breaks new ground by combining high-energy, New Orleans funk with intricate and sophisticated jazz lines. Arts management students who attended the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April saw Royal and his band perform.
"Khris Royal and Dark Matter are awesome performers," Shannon Costello ‘12, said. "You cannot help but dance when they are playing their funky beats. It is great to see such amazing talent all on one stage."
The Arthur Holmes Blues Band also will join this year’s festival. The locally based blues quartet from Pittsfield includes Holmes on guitar and vocals, John Worth on bass, Gary Smith on Hammond B-3 organ, and Bridget Wnukowski on drums.
The group performs blues and blues-based rock music in the tri-state area, and most recently opened for Popa Chubby and the legendary James Montgomery at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.
Tickets to the Blues and Funk Festival are $15 for a two-night combo pass or $10 for general admission each night. Non-MCLA student tickets are $5 each night. Tickets each night for MCLA alumni are $8, $5 for staff and faculty, and members and students are free. For tickets: 413-662-5204. For more info: mcla.edu/presents.