Rawa Blues – largest indoor Blues Festival in the world
Katowice is the host to the largest indoor Blues Festival in the world – Rawa Blues. 2016 is its 36th year. It’s name comes from the Rawa river that runs through the centre of Katowice. It takes place around the end of September and the beginning of October in Spodek, the large flying saucer like arena near the centre of Katowice and since it was built next door also in NOSPR – the home of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra.
The idea of the Rawa Blues Festival was introduced in 1981. The first festival was organized in the Katowice Theater and gathered about twenty blues bands from all over Poland and 500 fans. Organizing the festival on that times was a big challenge, considering the political background. It was the time when Polish people were struggling with the socialistic system. In 1980, there were the beginnings of Solidarnosc (Solidarity) movements. In 1981, a martial law was introduced in Poland by gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski as head of the authoritarian government. It was the time, when even basic items were hardly available.
And in that hard times, a group of people, mainly students and blues musicians, decided to organize a blues sessions in Katowice, starting first Rawa Blues edition. On the beginnings, during the 80s the festival systematically received more and more recognition. Polish blues journalist and musicians consider that times of the festival as a key element in fostering the development of Polish blues scene. Rawa Blues Festival is the only festival, where all legendary Polish blues artists have played, and where a lot of them started their artistic career. The list include: Tadeusz Nalepa, Dżem, Easy Rider, Jan Kyks Skrzek, Irek Dudek, Martyna Jakubowicz, Jan Janowski, Silesian Blues Band, Nocna Zmiana Bluesa to name only a few.
The festival director is Irek Dudek a Polish singer, composer, multiinstrumentalist and songwriter. He is well known in Poland and western Europe for his blues achievements
The first night of the 2016 Festival held at NOSPR featured Corey Harris solo during the first half Keb’ Mo’ & NOSPR orchestra with an appearance from Rawa Blues organiser Irek Dudek – himself a well-known Blues artist who increased the popularity of Blues in Poland.