Czech Village Blues will bring two nonprofits together for concert, fundraising

Cedar Rapids organizations announce a new collaboration to bring the blues back to town. — photo by Stijn Debrouwere

Area blues fans have had the blues since the final Bluesmore event in 2015. The Linn County Blues Society had a two decade run with their annual daylong event on the lawn of the Brucemore mansion in Cedar Rapids, but for the last couple of years the enthusiastic fans of the music have had to do without.

A new collaboration between the Linn County Blues Society and the Friends of Czech Village will give the event new life in a new home under a new name.

Czech Village Blues will be held on Saturday, August 12. Artists will include blues slide guitarist Joanna Connor and the Linn County Blues Society All Stars, featuring eight Iowa Blues Hall of Famers.

Proceeds from the event will be go toward the reestablishment of the Riverside Roundhouse in the historic Cedar Rapids neighborhood. The Roundhouse was damaged during, and dismantled after, the flood of 2008.

“The concert will be held on 16th Avenue on the east edge of Czech Village,” said Michelle Bell, president of the Friends of Czech Village. “We have hopes that in the future it could be held in the park where the Roundhouse will be located.”

The new collaboration grew out of a conversation that occurred in February during the Blues ‘n’ Buffett Chili Challenge, an event co-sponsored by the Linn County Blues Society. The Roundhouse was on people’s minds due to a recent public forum about the structure, and when the conversation turned to a new life for Bluesmore, “the two non-profit organizations collaborating appeared to be a match made in heaven,” according to Bell.

Greg West, entertainment chair of the Linn County Blues Society, is excited.

“The benefit to the Linn County Blues Society is a new home for a successful event in a location that will foster our mission of preserving, promoting and perpetuating blues music in eastern Iowa,” West said.

Bell sees clear advantages for her organization and the neighborhood it serves, as well. “The benefit for the Friends of Czech Village is [that the concert will] aid economic development by providing funding for resurrecting the Roundhouse as well as an increase in visitors to the historic Czech Village.”

Of course, putting on the event requires funding — especially since the plan is to donate the proceeds.

“We are currently soliciting sponsors for the event. There are many levels available for donors to support this event,” West said.

The Friends of Czech Village hope that a reconstructed Roundhouse will become a venue for farmer’s markets, recreational activities, festivals, social occasions and the like.

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