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BLOOMINGTON -- Deborah Mehlberg grew up on the lush turf of the General Electric Employees Club, whiling away many a summer afternoon swimming or playing tennis.

Credit her parents, longtime G.E. employees Eldon and Jessie Hinshaw, for that perk.

This weekend, her childhood haunt at 1750 G.E. Road is beckoning again, but not for a pool dip or tennis swing; rather it's the brand new home for the 10th edition of the former "Nothin' But the Blues Festival," rechristened the "Ain't Nothin' But the Blues Festival."

The event, Friday night and Saturday, is now being presented by Bluesman Records, the company owned by Mehlberg and her musician husband Steve "The Harp" Mehlberg.

In its first nine years, the fest traveled from the Interstate Center to the Bloomington Sale Barn to, most recently, Tri-Lakes.

The festival's founder, Eric Tapley, passed away unexpectedly two months before last year's festival. It was taken over at short notice by Tapley's family members, including his son, Eric Jr.

After the family decided to pass on continuing the event, the Mehlbergs - who've been involved in the festival since day one - stepped in.

They were able to secure the festival's trademark name talent, from first-timers like Bernard Allison and Cee Cee James to returning alums like Janiva Magness and Bryan Lee.

"I know we're absolutely standing on Eric's shoulders," said Deborah Mehlberg. "I feel like Eric is still here, helping and encouraging us from the great beyond."

The move from Tri-Lakes to the G.E. employee park was spurred by summer construction on Rhodes Lane, which leads in to Tri-Lakes on South Bunn Street.

Tapping her family's G.E. heritage, "I approached the (club) board, and was nervous since they've never rented the property to an outside event before," Mehlberg said. "I got a unanimous decision to do it, and was very pleased."

Ample free parking will be at the G.E. plant lot across the street.

Per the club's Constitution Trail location, bicyclists can cycle in and turn their bikes over to a free valet service at the park's batting cage, sponsored by Friends of Constitution Trail and WGLT radio's Good to Go project.

 

Go!

What: Ain't Nothin But the Blues Festival

When: 5-11 p.m. Friday, 1:30-11:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: General Electric Employees Club, 1750 G.E. Road, Bloomington

Friday lineup: Steve "The Harp" Blues Band, 5 p.m.; Lionel Young Band, 6 p.m.; Big Time Sarah, 8 p.m.; Bernard Allison, 10 p.m.

Saturday lineup: New & Slightly Used, 1:30 p.m.; Matthew Curry & The Blues Fury, 3:30 p.m.; Cee Cee James, 5:30 p.m.; Bryan Lee, 7:30 p.m.; Janiva Magness, 9:30 p.m.

Tickets: $15 advance; $18 at gate (advance tickets at Friar Tucks, Golf Discount, Pro Tire & Auto)

 

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