San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Festival gives Costa Rica the blues

Blues lovers in Costa Rica will be able to get their fill of licks, riffs and slide next weekend at the fourth annual Costa Rica Blues Festival. This year’s event will be the largest to date, with six international acts and four Costa Rican blues bands set to perform.

Headlining the festival will be harmonica master Sonny Boy Terry and acclaimed blues guitarist Jonn Del Toro Richardson, both from Houston, Texas.

Sonny boy

Sonny Boy Terry.

Courtesy of Costa Rica Blues Festival

Donnie “Mr. Downchild” Walsh, known as the “father of Canadian blues” and one of two brothers after whom comedian Dan Aykroyd modeled “The Blues Brothers,” will also grace the stage with his deep vocals, lively harmonica and slide guitar. The 63-year-old Walsh pioneered the blues scene in Canada by forming The Downchild Blues Band with brother Richard Walsh in 1969.

Accompanying Donnie Walsh will be The Leatherbacks, a band formed in 1997 in the Costa Rican beach town of Tamarindo by U.S. vocalist and guitarist Nick D’Amico. Walsh, who has spent his winters in Costa Rica for the past eight or nine years, met The Leatherbacks through a mutual friend and plays regularly with them on weekends in Brasilito and Playas del Coco, on the northern Pacific coast. The Leatherbacks are known to incorporate classic rock, funk, blues and reggae into their sets, but Walsh said festivalgoers can expect strictly blues during their performance at the festival.

“It will be pretty much up-tempo, good for dancing and jumping around,” Walsh said.


Los Santísimos Snorkels.

Courtesy of Costa Rica Blues Festival

Also in the festival’s lineup are Chicago’s Steve Arvey, Los Santísimos Snorkels of Mexico, Canada’s SAB and the Electric Storm, and Robbie Clark and the Live Wire Blues Band of Austin, Texas, along with The Blind Pigs Blues Band, Blues Devils, 3 for Blues and The Known Associates of Costa Rica. To go with the great music, traditional Texas barbecue will be served throughout the event.

The festival will take place at La Campiña Hotel and Club in San Rafael de Montes de Oca, east of San José, on Saturday, March 12, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Bus service will be available to and from the festival for residents in the western San José area. Tickets cost ₡16,000 (about $32) in advance and ₡18,000 ($36) at the door. For ticket sales locations and more information about the event, visit, or contact festival organizer Mo Ledezma at 8872-8539.

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