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Plate is full at Carolina Downhome Blues Festival

The Carolina Downhome Blues Festival began Thursday, but there are two days of blues left.

The festival, in its 13th year in Camden, is like a blues buffet. What do you have a taste for? Dirt-road blues, Chicago blues, New Orleans funky blues or Delta blues?

It's all there. Just follow the scent, er, we mean the sound.

Over the festival's three days, there will be almost 50 shows from more than 25 performers at various downtown Camden venues.

If you're going, you're going to need to map your schedule out. Here's a little help from us.

TONIGHT

Hilton Valentine & Skiffledog: Hilton Valentine is relaxed these days.

"I feel comfortable because I'm playing the music I started with," he said. "I'm going back to my roots."

That would be the blues.

Valentine was a member of The Animals, a bluesy rock band that was part of the British Invasion, the influx of British bands to the American pop charts in the 1960s. The band recorded hits such as "The House of the Rising Sun" and "We Gotta Get Out of This Place."

The Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

Valentine, who recently finished a three-year stint playing with Eric Burdon, the Animals' lead singer, doesn't subscribe to notions that the blues is a dying genre.

"People somewhere will always be suffering some injustice, and someone will find some release in blues," he said.

"Everything goes in circles. People get lost and you have to get back."

The blues have never left the South, though, and it's a comforting to hear a musician share their troubles when the world is in social and economic disarray.

Valentine hasn't played much in the South, but the Animals did get a key to the city of Laurel, Miss., in the '60s.

"I haven't been back since," he said. "If you come across it, let me know."

Valentine will play at 7 tonight and Saturday at The Wood Auditorium of The Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County, 810 Lyttleton St.

Drink Small: The self-proclaimed Blues Doctor is still making house calls. The show is at 10 at Old Armory Steak House, 514 Rutledge St.

John Dee Holeman with Andy Coats: Holeman, a 80-year-old blues player, knows a little bit about downhome blues. The show is at 7 at Indigo Jones, 511 Rutledge St.

Lil Dave Thompson: Out of Mississippi, Lil Dave Thompson plays the kind of blues where the guitar weeps as much as the vocals. The show is at 9 at The Clock Tower Stage, corner of Rutledge and Broad streets.

Robert Lighthouse: A one-man band in the traditional blues vein. The show is at 9 at Vittel Salon Day & Spa, 1025 Broad St.

Andrew Jr. Boy Jones: The Texas blues guitarist brings full-band energy. The show is at 9 at The Venue on Broad, 1020 Broad St.

SATURDAY

Lightnin' Wells: Wells plays traditional acoustic blues. The show is at 2 p.m. at Kirkwood Books, 944 Broad St.

Veronika Jackson: Jackson is a singer and guitarist who adds folk to her blues music. The show is at 11:30 p.m. at Vittel Salon Day & Spa.

The Rusty Davis Group: Rusty Davis knows as much about the blues as he does guitars. The show is at 9 p.m. at Davis & Sons Guitar Shop, 953 Broad St.

Southern Soul Explosion: The group - Barbara Carr, Roy Roberts and AJ Diggs - combine Southern soul and blues. The show is at 8 p.m. at The Venue on Broad.

IF YOU GO

WHEN: Tonight and Saturday

WHERE: Camden

TICKETS: $15 each night

INFORMATION: (803) 425-7676, ext. 300; www.bluesbash.com/camden

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