What: Blues and Brews Festival
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Crash Music at the Historic Aztec Theater, 104 N. Main Ave. in Aztec, and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday at Riverside Park, 500 S. Light Plant Road in Aztec.
Where: $12 Friday and $22 Saturday (kids 12 and under free)
Where: There will be free tent camping. RV spaces are $10 per night.
AZTEC — Whether you were born under a bad sign, got a hellhound on your trail or if your love has been in vain, you'll want to seek sweet relief for all that ails you this weekend in Aztec.
The Animas River Arts and Entertainment Blues and Brews Festival kicks off its eighth year with a schedule packed full of live blues artists.
Among the music that will ignite the stage at Riverside Park Saturday are Cajun swamp and Chicago stylings by the Avey Brothers from Iowa, "bluesadelic" jam rock by the Todd Wolf Band from Pennsylvania, downhome traditional blues by the Daddy Mack Blues Band from Tennessee, blues-roots-and-soul from Shari Puorto of California and Texas dance party blues from the Michael Lee Band.
And for the first time, the festival has expanded to include a kick-off concert on Friday at Crash Music at the historic Aztec Theater.
The idea is to get people "warmed up for Saturday's all-day event with some blues the night before," said Sue Rys, co-owner of Crash.
"We thought it was a perfect way to help us celebrate the theater coming to life again and to get the music started early," she said.
The guy to kick things off will be CW Ayon (pronounced "I own"), a one-man blues band from Las Cruces.
Ayon is a disciple of the hill-country sound of northern Mississippi made famous by Fat Possum blues legends Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside.
Ayon's fourth album, "Lohmador" -- a portmanteau for two Las Cruces streets, Amador and Lohman, a New Mexican crossroads of sorts -- was released this year and won Best Blues Song honors at the state's music awards in May for the tune "End of My Rope."
Ayon plays seated, his feet thumping a chugging beat on a kick drum and snare, leaving his hands free to burn his guitar down groove-laden highways propelled by mesmeric licks and roadhouse ruin.
"I get into the groove and ride it, getting people up and dancing," Ayon said. "I really feel the crowd and go with the vibe from there."
The festival's organizer, Katee McClure, called blues "the root of rock and roll."
"There's hardly anybody who doesn't like it," she said. "The music is so cool to dance to, so much fun to see live."
Saturday's event will offer plenty of tasty food from Navajo tacos, barbecue and woodfire pizza from local eateries. Microbrewed beer and wine from St. Clair Vineyards in Deming.
There will be plenty for kiddos to enjoy, too, McClure said, including a trampoline, giant beach balls, a new playground and waterplay area.
Ample security and camping space will also be available for the weekend event.
"I had it in mind a few years back to have an all-female security team to combat the big-bruiser-dude image security that festivals tend to have," McClure said.
While McClure had to settle for both genders ensuring everyone has a safe and fun experience this year, she hopes to make progress toward her goal.
"Never underestimate the power of short women," said McClure, who is 5 feet 3 inches tall. "We can tackle you at the knees."