An Open Letter from the KVBA President:

To the Kalamazoo Blues Community,

First, I want to thank you and the Kalamazoo Valley Blues Association (KVBA) for allowing me to serve as President and be a part of an organization that not only serves the Blues community through Blues Fest, but also gives back through programs like Blues in Schools, the KVBA Scholarship program and the International Blues Competition. This organization was formed over 25 years ago. The individuals who formed it were motivated and persistent in pursuing the mission to promote, educate, and preserve the rich history of blues music in the Kalamazoo area. I am proud to announce that there will be a 25th annual Blues Fest this year and we will bring the venue back outdoors. There are many details to work out, but the KVBA Board is excited to have planning underway. What does this Blues Fest mean to you?

My first KVBA Blues Fest was in 1996, the year we moved here from Chicago. My wife and I served as volunteers and poured beverages in the beer tent. There was an asphalt lot, a couple tents and a stage with incredible local and regional talent.  That festival has grown to include national acts as well as regional and local talent. It has become a well-known event in the region.

Over the past couple years, I have been involved with the KVBA Board of Directors and have developed a great appreciation for the work that goes into these festivals.  Some years have been done better than others, but despite the selfless volunteer hours, fundraising activities, and sponsors, over the past couple years the festival has not been able to cover costs. The primary factors include ticket prices, line-up and venue (including weather).  Last year, the line-up was unprecedented, but the indoor venue was not supported. Lessons are learned each year.  That said, the 25th annual Kalamazoo Blues Festival will need your support more than ever – starting with your input. Our focus will be to bring the best experience that the community can support. We have developed a brief survey and will use your input to create this year’s festival. The festival is by the Kalamazoo blues community and for the Kalamazoo blues community.

I look forward to your input via this survey (please don’t submit more than once):

Link to Survey

I can be reached directly at and welcome direct feedback as well. I look forward to working together to make the 25th Annual Kalamazoo Blues Festival as memorable as ever.


Mike Depoian


Kalamazoo Valley Blues Association (KVBA)

The 2018 International Blues Challenge in Memphis Tennessee:

For the nineteenth time the Kalamazoo Valley Blues Association will send local talent to compete at th  International Blues Challenge in Memphis January 17-20, 2018.  These are the acts that will represent us:  
Blue Veins – Band competition
Hilger & DeVos – Solo/Duo competition
Out of Favor Boys – Best self produced CD

Steve Hilger and Dave DeVos have been playing music together for over ten years. Steve Hilger is a singer-songwriting guitar player who began in the early 70’s performing acoustic music in local coffee houses and clubs. In 2007, he formed The Steve Hilger Band which performs progressive and traditional electric blues of both originals and covers. He also has a jazz trio and a straight ahead jazz quartet that also performs post-60s jazz fusion. Bassist David DeVos grew up playing in several local rock bands and the fusion band Juniper Bear. He was principal bassist for the Michigan State Jazz band and worked his way through college playing club jazz. Since then, Dave has started the My Thin Place acoustic jazz project, and has extensive sideman experience. Dave plays with the Steve Hilger Band and appears on 3 CD projects with Steve. Together, Steve and Dave have been performing as an acoustic duo in various clubs in Grand Rapids, Grand Haven and Kalamazoo. They perform music written by Steve which extends from traditional to modern blues.

The 2017 Kalamazoo Blues Festival:

Here are a few pictures from the festival, which featured a wonderful lineup and some knock-out performances!  Thanks to everyone who came out this year!!

Bobby Rush – 2017 Grammy Award Winner for Best Traditional Blues Artist

Robben Ford with the Supersonic Blues Machine

Joe Louis Walker


Sugaray Rayford knocking it out of the Event Center

Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers

Dana Fuchs soulful performance

Janice Joplin’s 1964 Porsche 911

Future Blues Aficionados Working on Crafts