The Blues Café was initially put together by Tom Schlief, one of the original and long-time organizers of the Big Bull Falls Blues Festival. Uncle “Daddy” Marcus was the emcee of the event, originally designed to raise funds for the Marathon County Historical Society.

The event ran for a couple of years and then disappeared. When the Great Northern Blues Society was formed in 1998, reviving the Blues Café was discussed as a way to raise money. It took a couple of years of planning to put on an event of its size, with the first “reincarnated” Café being held at Marathon Park’s Youth Building in 2000.

The event took place there until 2008, when it was moved to the Stoney Creek Inn. The Blues Café came full circle in 2010 and moved back where it started in 1999 – the historical Rothschild Pavilion.

If you, or anyone you know, has photos from the event at the Youth Building or Stoney Creek, we’d love it if you’d share them with us. Send us your prints to P.O. Box 2276 • Wausau WI 54402-2276 so we can scan and get them back to you quickly.


GNBS Blues Café Lineups:



The Blue Shadows

Howard “Guitar” Luedtke & Blue Max

Otis & The Alligators

Scott Holt



Michael Murphy & The Mob

Rev. Raven & The Chain-Smokin’ Altar Boys

The Bill Perry Band

Magic Slim & The Teardrops


2006 – (Marathon Park Youth Building)

Howard “Guitar” Luedtke

Bryan Lee

Studebaker John & the Hawks

Alvin Youngblood Hart



Geneva Red

Deep Water

Anthony Gomes (Ride Em’ Cowboy)



Mean Tooth Grin

Aaron Williams & The Hoo Doo

Charles Walker

Studebaker John & The Hawks

Walter Trout



Red, White, and Blues Band

Meantooth Grin


Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials

Shane Dwight



*Acoustic sets – Lonesome Dan Kase

Jumpship Blues Band

Tallan Noble Latz

Red, White, and Blues Band

Joanne Shaw Taylor

Tinsley Ellis



*Acoustic Sets – Bryan Anderson

Donnie Pick & The Road Band

Jumpship Blues Band

Howard & The White Boys

Albert Castiglia

Chris Duarte



*Acoustic Sets – Robert “One-Man” Johnson

Donnie Pick & The Road Band

Kilborn Alley Blues Band

Grady Champion

Sena Ehrhardt (Booked after Magic Slim Died)

Corey Stevens



*Acoustic Sets – Lonesome Dan Kase

Howard Guitar Luedtke & Blue Max

Altered Five

Rusty Wright Band

Shaun Murphy

Joe Louis Walker



*Acoustic Sets – Duck Shack Dave

Left Wing Bourbon

Crankshaft & The Gear Grinders

Bobby Messano

Chris O’Leary Band

Samantha Fish



            *Acoustic sets – Dan Phelps

Aaron Williams & The Hoo Doo

Left Lane Cruiser

Ray Fuller and the Bluesrockers

Lionel Young Band

Albert Cummings



*Acoustic sets – Bing Futch

Joyann Parker Band

Jimmy Nick & Don’t Tell Mama

Ghost Town Blues Band

Brandon Santini

Becky Barksdale



            *Acoustic Sets – Cathy Grier

Big N’ Tasty

Norman Jackson Band

Southern Avenue

Victor Wainwright & the Train

Jeremiah Johnson Band


2019: (20th Anniversary Show)

Friday Night

Howard “Guitar” Luedtke

Reverend Raven & the Chain-Smokin’ Altar Boys


*Acoustic Sets – Macyn Taylor

The Mark Cameron Band

The Ivy Ford Band

The Cash Box Kings

The Danielle Nicole Band

Ronnie Baker Brooks


2020: (The Coronavirus Year)

Friday Night

Soul Symmetry – Canceled and replaced by Bobby Blues Tortured Soul

Aaron Williams & the Hoo Doo


            *Acoustic Sets – Sam Ness

Boom Boom Stevie V. & the Knockouts

The Bel Airs

Venessa Collier – Canceled due to “Virus”

John Nemeth Band – Extended set to 2 hours

Ana Popovic – Extended set to 2 hours


2021: – Show Canceled by Coronavirus Pandemic



Friday Night

Harrison Street Band

Hip Pocket Band


            *Acoustic Sets – Michael Murphy

The Blues Disciples

Ivy Ford Band

Hector Anchondo

The Jimmys

The Altered Five Blues Band



Friday Night

Tommy Bentz Band

The Peoples Brothers Band


*Acoustic Sets – Andy Zynda

Alex Wilson with Big Al Dorn

The Avey Grouws Band

The Stephen Hull Experience

Vanessa Collier

Nick Moss Band with Dennis Gruenling