The Texas Blues Festival, an annual festival held in Tyler, Texas, began in the mid-1990s and takes place on the fourth Saturday in April. The festival generates revenue to support projects for Tyler’s downtown area, facilitated by the Heart of Tyler Main Street Program. The funds from the festival are used for the revitalization of Tyler’s downtown, including business recruitment, property rehabilitation, and traffic improvements.
The Texas Blues Festival has been hosted by Rick’s on the Square, a restaurant and blues club located at 104 West Erwin Street in Tyler. The festival, scheduled from noon until midnight, has featured approximately six nationally and internationally-known artists each year, ranging from traditional blues to more progressive, jazz-influenced blues. The event also honors the blues legacy of Texas and its many pioneers—from Blind Lemon Jefferson to T-Bone Walker to Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Headliners, such as Eden Brent, a native of the Mississippi Delta, have brought national recognition to the Tyler Blues Festival. Brent won the 2006 International Blues Challenge of the Blues Foundation. Larry Garner, who has appeared regularly at the festival, has won Bluesman of the Year and has been inducted into the Louisiana Blues Hall of Fame. Others who have played the Texas Blues Festival in Tyler include Li’l Dave Thompson, Something Blue and Jim Suhler, Big Smoo and the Trailer Park Kings, and Monkey Beat. No performances were scheduled, however, for 2010.