In yet another casualty of COVID-19, Magic City Blues organizers have announced this year's festival has been canceled.
Heading into its 19th year, the two-day August event that typically draws thousands of people to downtown Billings has announced dates for 2021 instead.
“We were almost ready to announce (the lineup),” said Pam Goodridge, who founded the festival with her husband, Tim, nearly two decades ago. “The whole industry just kind of froze.”
The plan, according to Pam, is to move all confirmed acts to Aug. 6-7, 2021.
Goodridge, who has been working closely with county health agencies on how best to proceed, said it would be nearly impossible to ensure social distancing and received word based on the number of people it was not advisable to host the event.
“I wasn’t going to do anything different,” Goodridge said. “I wanted it to be like it is. Being together, that’s the whole point. That’s what makes it such a fun and special event.”
Held on Montana Avenue between North 25th and North 23rd Streets, the event attracts upwards of 5,000 people each night. Sold-out concerts have included ZZ Top in 2018, John Fogerty in 2015, Steve Miller Band in 2013, the Black Crows in 2006 and George Thorogood in 2003. Other headlining acts have included Blues Traveler; Michael Franti; Kenny Wayne Shepherd; Buddy Guy; Counting Crows; Ben Harper; Ziggy Marley; and; most recently, Postmodern Jukebox.
Goodridge isn’t disclosing who was booked for 2020, but is working to renegotiate contracts for next year. This year, she took on the majority of work for the festival, which takes a year to coordinate, as her husband is now employed by MetraPark.
“Usually, I’m behind the scenes and Tim was always the face,” said Goodridge, who handles the event graphics, social media, website and other less public parts of the event. “This time I was actually going to be taking over. I was thinking, ‘Am I going to be brave enough to be the face?’ I don’t get to see if that’s going to happen that way.”
The Goodridges have long focused on bringing blues and rock acts to the Magic City, but also have given opening slots to local and regional bands. Last year four bands from Montana were chosen to perform, including Mudslide Charley, a blues band from Missoula; the sister-led rock band from Bozeman, Hawthorne Roots; and Billings' Not Your Boyfriend's Band; and Arterial Drive.
In addition to canceling the 2020 festival, Goodridge said that the bands booked for Alive After 5 on July 31 have also been canceled. Each year, the kickoff of Magic City Blues coincidences with the popular downtown street event, and Goodridges book that event's entertainment, which was to feature their son, Willy G, and New York based pop group Lawrence.
Last year, the event raised $25,000 to help children going through cancer treatments, a cause close to the Goodridge family’s hearts. Their son, Will, was diagnosed with leukemia at age 14, and they used the popular event to help raise funds for Kelker's Kids, named for Montana's first pediatric oncologist Dr. Paul Kelker. The organization provides financial support for children and their families undergoing cancer treatment at Billings Clinic.
Attendance for both nights in 2019 was estimated at upwards of 7,000 people.
Retrospective: Magic City Blues
2002 - Setting the stage
2002 - Eddie Shaw & The Wolf Gang
2003 - Donald Ray Johnson
2003 - John Mooney
2003 - Maurice John Vaughn
2003 - Nick Curran & The Nitelifes
2004 - The sun sets on the crowd
2004 - Hamilton Loomis
2005 - Tyler Burnett Band
2005 - Sweet Betty
2005 - C.J. Chenier & The Red Hot Louisiana Band
2005 - Buddy Guy
2006 - A wet intermission
2006 - Robert Belfour
2006 - Hillstomp
2006 - The Black Crowes
2007 - Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band
2007 - Dwayne Dopsie & The Zydeco Hellraisers
2007 - Hello Dave
2007 - Blues Traveler
2008 - A little rain
2008 - Mighty Lester
2008 - Delbert McClinton
2008 - JJ Grey & Mofro
2008 - Albert Cummings
2009 - Shannon Curfman
2009 - Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials
2009 - The Tommy Castro Band
2009 - Little Feat
2010 - Sons of Billings
2010 - Sonny Landreth
2010 - Michael Franti & Spearhead
2010 - The Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band
2011 - Janiva Magness
2011 - Anders Osborn
2011 - George Thorogood & The Destroyers
2011 - Chicago Mass Choir
2012 - Little Freddie King
2012 - Kasey Anderson & the Honkies
2012 - Counting Crows
2012 - Chris Isaak
2013 - Maxie Ford
2013 - Vintage Trouble
2013 - Robert Cray Band
2013 - Steve Miller Band
2014 - Jonny Lang
2014 - Ben Harper and Charlie Musslewhite
2014 - Trombone Shorty
2014 - Huey Lewis and the News
2014 - Gary Small and the Coyote Brothers
2015 - Buddy Guy
2015 - The Congress
2015 - The Steepwater Band
2015 - John Fogerty
2015 - O.A.R.
2015 - Los Lobos
2015 - Lucinda Williams
2016 - Elle King
2016 - Kenny Wayne Shepherd
2016 - Karen Lovely
2016 - Guthrie Brown & The Family
2016 - Ziggy Marley
2016 - Rain at Magic City Blues
2016 - Jared Stewart
2017 - Brian Setzer
2017 - Victor Wainwright & the Wildroots
2017 - G'Jai's Jook Joint
2017 - The Dusty Pockets and Crowd
2017 - ZZ Ward
2018 - ZZ Top
2018 - Carolyn Wonderland
2018 - Magic City Blues rain
2018 - Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs
2018 - Phillip Phillips
2018 - AJR
2019 - Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band
2019 - George Thorogood and the Destroyers
2019 - Hawthorne Roots
2019 - Little Hurricane
2019 - Postmodern Jukebox
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