• The Californian artist, considered one of the best harmonica players in the world, will also be distinguished with the official prize of the contest for his long and successful musical career.
  • The Cinelli Brothers, Bette Smith, The Big Flyers, Koko-Jean and The Tonics, Los Mambo Jambo Arkestra and Mr. Sipp join the list of confirmed first bands of the contest.
  • The second edition of the festival, promoted by the Bilbao City Council, will take place on July 28, 29 and 30 at the Arenal and will be completely free.

The second edition of Bilbao Blues Festival confirms the first bands on its lineup, made up of brilliant national and international artists such as Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, The Cinelli Brothers, Bette Smith, The Big Flyers, Koko-Jean and The Tonics, Los Mambo Jambo Arkestra and Mr. Sipp.

For Xabier Ochandiano, Councilor for Economic Development, Commerce and Employment of the Bilbao City Council, “holding a second edition, after the great reception that the festival had last year with 65,000 people, was inexcusable. We are facing an event that combines outstanding blues figures, complementary activities, it is outdoors, free and with an offer for people of all ages. The Bilbao Blues Festival completes the calendar of summer musical events in the city and contributes to attracting visitors.”

“We continue to seek to offer the public an eclectic program in which there is room for different types of blues and related music, such as swing, jump blues, west coast , so that people have the opportunity to learn more about this minority genre.

But they all have a common denominator: an impressive live show that leaves no one indifferent ”, underlines the director of the festival, Carlos Malles.

The contest, which will take place from July 28 to 30 at the Arenal and will be completely free , has also chosen blues legend Rick Estrin (California, 1949), vocalist and harmonica player , as II Award or Bilbao Blues Festival. “We are very happy to be able to offer the txapela to Estrin this year . It is quite an institution within the history of the harmonica in the blues. Without a doubt, it is a well-deserved recognition and he has already let us know that he is excited to receive it”, celebrates Malles.

In his extensive career, Estrin he has collaborated with some of the most important artists of the second half of the 20th century: Windy City Johnny Young, Eddie Taylor, Sam Lay, John Littlejohn, Koko Taylor, John Hammond, Robert Cray , Muddy Waters … In 1976 he formed the band Little Charlie & The Nightcats upon meeting guitarist Charlie Baty, along with bassist Lorenzo Farrell and drummer J. Hansen. When Baty retired in 2008, he founded Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, with which he won the coveted Blues Music Award for Band of the Year in 2018 and 2021 .



The British band led by brothers Marc (singer and lead guitarist) and Alessandro Cinelli (drums) drinks from the electric blues of Chicago and Texas from the 60s and 70s and stands out for its energetic live show that combines blues, soul and rhythm and blues. Nominated at the 2023 UK Blues Awards in the “Blues Band of the Year” category , the combo completed by Stephen Giry on bass and Tom Julian-Jones on harmonica and guitar, made a brilliant debut in 2018 with their album “ Baby Please Set Your Alarm”, reaching number 2 on the IBBA (Independent Blues Broadcasters Association).


The daughter of a church choir director, Bette Smith has been compared to the powerhouses Big Mama Thornton and Bessie Smith, possessing the classic elegance of Joe Williams, the dynamism of Koko Taylor, and the energy of Janis Joplin , all wrapped up in Billie ‘s magic holiday . His music is timeless ( soul , rhythm & blues) with the Mississippi appellation of origin. An anecdote that gives an idea of her enormous talent is that, after hearing her sing in a church in Los Angeles, Ray Charles invited her to collaborate with him.


The Bilbao band The Big Flyers -formerly The BlueSpirits and later The Reverendos- will open the festival . It brings together musicians of great prestige and experience; “Reverend” Igor García on piano and vocals, Álvaro “King” Martínez on guitar, Javi Caballero on drums, Pedro Larrauri on double bass and David Blacky on sax. Lovers of the music of the 40s and 50s, they have shared the stage, together or separately, with blues legends such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Robert Cray, The Muddy Waters Band or Wanda Jackson.


Koko-Jean and The Tonics present their brand new debut album “Shaken & Stirred” in Bilbao, in which they propose an attractive mix of soul, blues and rock and roll wrapped in the musical aura of New Orleans. The Afro-Catalan vocalist Koko-Jean Davis (formerly of The Excitements) is a true hurricane on stage who arrives magnificently accompanied by “The Tonics”, a trio made up of highly prestigious musicians from the Barcelona music scene.


Rock and roll, rhythm and blues, surf and swing make up the musical recipe for Los Mambo Jambo Arkestra, one of the brightest and most magnetic instrumental combos on the state circuit . The Barcelona quartet made up of Dani Nel.lo (sax), Ivan Kovacevic (double bass), Dani Baraldés “Patillas” (guitar) and Anton Jarl (drums) will multiply the richness of their live show at the Bilbao Blues Festival with the contribution of a dozen additional musicians; five saxophones, a six brass section (three trombones and three trumpets) and a guitar.


Guitarist Castro Coleman (McComb, Mississippi, 1976), also known as Mr.Sipp, is a regular on the most prominent international billboards. He burst onto the American blues scene in 2014 by winning the prestigious Blues Challenge through The Vicksburg Blues Society and the Gibson Best Guitarist Award and Bobby Rush Artist of the Year award from the Jus’ Blues Foundation. A year later he was honored at the Jackson Music Awards, in the categories of International Blues Male Artist, Blues Artist of the Year and Artist of the Year.


The first edition of the contest brought together more than 65,000 people last year who enjoyed the vibrant concerts by Bob Stroger (1st Bilbao Blues Festival Award) and the Chicago All Stars, Alejo Stivel, Shemekia Copeland, Ronnie Baker Brooks,

Dana Fuchs, Fantastic Negrito, Travellin’ Brothers, Wax & Boogie feat. Drew Davies, Noa & The Hell Drinkers, Blues Triumvirate, Flamingo Tours, Micky & the Buzz.


The entity Festival promoter , Crazy Blues, has been distinguished with the highest international awards in relation to the promotion of this musical genre: BBSA Award as best promoter (Blues Behind the Scenes Award), granted by the European Blues Union in Azores in 2019 and the KBA Award for the best organization of an international festival (Keeping the Blues Alive) in 2015, the highest recognition in the world, awarded by the Memphis Blues Foundation.