About the Festival

The Jerry Ricks Blues Festival was created by joining two renowned festivals: the Kastav Blues Festival and the B&D – Opatija Riviera Blues Festival, which over the last ten years have significantly contributed to the cultural and tourist offer of Kastav and the Opatija Riviera. The festival was named in memory of the great blues musician Jerry Ricks, who lived for a short period in Kastav and is also buried there. The festival takes place from 25 July until 4 August 2019 at ten different locations on the Opatija Riviera and in Kastav, and includes performances by renowned musicians from the USA, Japan and neighbouring countries. Starting on 25 July, concerts will take place in Klana, Mošćenička Draga, Brseč, Mošćenice, Ičići, Lovran, Ika, Matulji, Opatija while Kastav will host the last two days of the first edition of the Jerry Ricks Blues Festival.


I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I’m gone which would not have happened if I had not come. This is a quote by Salman Rushdie, but is also in fact the beginning of the story of yet another destiny – the one that brought together the austere Istrian scale, hard Čakavian dialect, soft littoral soul and Mississippi Delta.

Everybody knows how and when this happened, but why it happened is known only to Jerry Ricks, the American country blues guitarist and singer. Many local people ask themselves what brought him to end his days in this small town overgrown with ivy. The answer is probably because this area is in itself like the blues.

In the early 20th century, W.C. Handy said that we call the sorrow songs of the slaves jubilee melodies while we call the happy-go-lucky songs of the Southern Negro blues. However, how much sorrow is there in that happiness and how much happiness is there in that sorrow? No one can ever tell. It was precisely this something in-between that anchored this constant rambler in Kastav. The town became his eternal home, the point where everything ceases except dreams.

Did Jerry or Gerald Lawrence Ricks, aka Philadelphia Jerry Ricks, ever think that a blues festival in a country at the other end of the world from the one where he had been born would be named after him? This is a question that must remain unanswered. Now everybody sees this crossroads, these guitars and the seeds spread by musical notes. And the question arises again: did the Črni Kastavac, as Jerry was affectionately called by the locals, really come to this crossroads to disseminate the seeds of the blues or did this all happen by chance? We’ll never know.

It all started with the first Kastav Blues Festival in 2008, the memorial one in his honour, after which it continued from year to year, getting ever louder, which meant that the notes of the blues flew away along their roads, the ones that lead across the surroundings of Rijeka. The festival lasted several days, but – just like Jerry – chose Kastav for its final performance. The blues continued to roll around Kastav for years, eventually forming a large blues event with a new name, although its meaning remained the same.

The Kastav Blues Festival gave birth to a new festival. It was created as a fusion of the Kastav Blues Festival and Opatija Riviera Blues Festival, which had emerged only a few years after the one in Kastav. The name of the new festival is the Jerry Ricks Blues Festival. This first strong edition includes eleven days of performances at ten different locations.

Who can now say that the faraway crossroads and that story about destiny make no sense? (Sl. M.)