The 25th anniversary Bowlful of Blues was held in Ojai's famous Libbey Bowl on Saturday, September 22, 2018, with a star-studded lineup. See below. There will not be a show in 2020. Please check this page for news about the return in 2021.

Our 2018 Performers

Interview with Selwyn Birchwood on KCSB this week!

Check in at 12:35 on this stream to hear Sunnyland Steve’s interview with Selwyn Birchwood on KCSB. Selwyn spoke from the road on his way from Florida to Ojai for the 25th Bowlful of Blues this Saturday, September 22.

Ventura County Reporter cover story on Teresa James at Bowlful of Blues

Click on the cover photo to read the story

Heralded young blues star and Alligator Records artist Selwyn Birchwood will headline the 2018 Bowlful of Blues on his national tour.

September 6, 2018
For Release: Immediately

Bowlful of Blues to feature Ojai food, beer and wine

Rondia Kaufer of Rondia’s Kitchen shown here back home in Chicago at a family backyard barbecue.

The 25th anniversary of the Bowlful of Blues on September 22 from 4:00 to 9:30 p.m. in Libbey Bowl would not be complete without great food and beverages to accompany the world-class blues music. To that end, the locally produced, nonprofit festival is featuring Ojai’s own Rondia’s Kitchen, Ojai Valley Brewery and Ojai Vineyard. The menu includes fried and roasted chicken, barbecued ribs, black bean burgers, sweet potato fries, handcrafted beers and award-winning wines.

Rondia Kaufer grew up in Chicago’s infamous Cabrini-Green housing project where her very survival came to depend on her ability to turn out great backyard barbecue as well as play some funky guitar. Here’s how it worked. Her stepfather, like her father, was an original member of the famous doo-wop group, the Flamingos (“I Only Have Eyes for You”). Not surprisingly, Rondia’s home life centered around music as she and her brothers formed their own band. Her stepfather liked to throw big parties in the common backyard of their apartment building, one of several 8-story structures that together housed a mind-boggling 15,000 people. 

Rondia was the designated chef who swapped her apron for a red electric guitar when the chicken and ribs came off the grill.  While the band played the latest Curtis Mayfield tune, her culinary and musical reputation was spreading through the neighborhood, granting her a kind of immunity from the gang violence that made Cabrini-Green the national symbol of all that was wrong with inner city housing projects and eventually led to its demolition. On September 22 at Libbey Bowl, Rondia’s Kitchen will be serving a limited number of dinners — first come, first served — between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. from the kitchen to the left of the box office.

Ojai Valley Brewery, rather than creating a line-up of I.P.A.s and stouts, of which there are many local examples, specializes in styles largely neglected by craft beer. Their focus is on dry, malt-forward lagers and light-bodied ales incorporating local flora. These beers utilize ingredients uniquely native to the Ojai Valley Region. Local chaparral herbs in concert with and at times in place of hops provide flavoring and bittering. Jeremy Haffner, brewer and co-owner with his wife Elizabeth Haffner and mother-in-law Laurel Moore of Azu Restaurant, uses special herbs, flowers, fruits, and spices sourced from local Ojai farms to create, in his words, “subtle flavors that blend together to create a unity of flavor: a whole greater than the sum of its parts.” 

Haffner and his team aspire to “honor the Ojai community with new styles and flavors that can only be found here.” The selection of beers to be served at the Bowlful of Blues will be chosen just a few days before the event as the the brewery is constantly revolving its seasonal offerings. Visit to learn more.

Adam and Helen Tolmach’s Ojai Vineyard began in 1983 with the dream of producing distinctive California wines using traditional wine making practices learned in Burgundy. Thirty-five years later vintner Adam Tolmach continues to pursue the craft at their artisanal winery in Ojai. As he puts it, his “quest to combine European sensibilities of balance and finesse with the exuberant fruit from coastal California vineyards” is expressed in the wines he makes today. “By definition, great vineyards have something unique to say, and we take it as our job to capture those characteristics in a clear and unadorned way.”

Tolmach is known for producing excellent chardonnays as well as some whites based on Rhône varieties, but Ojai Vineyard’s strength is in their award-winning syrahs and pinot noirs, sourced from some of the top vineyards around the Central Coast. They are listed in The Daily Meal’s 101 Best Wineries in America. Visit for a taste of the countless awards and top ratings bestowed on Ojai’s premier winery.

Advance tickets for the Bowlful of Blues are $40 online at or at ticket outlets in Ojai, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Thousand Oaks. The price is $45 at the box office on the day of the show. A $100 VIP package includes secure, reserved parking within one block of the Bowl, a reserved seating section in the front of the seating area, VIP lounge with provide complimentary snacks and special beers and premium wines not available at the beverage tent on the lawn.

For tickets and information, visit or call 805-836-4665.

August 15, 2018
For Release: Immediately

Rod Piazza joins 2018 Bowlful of Blues lineup

Harmonica virtuoso Rod Piazza

Dear Bowlful of Blues fans,

We just learned that James Harman has cancelled his appearance due to health issues but we have exciting news. In his place we are thrilled to present internationally touring harmonica master Rod Piazza! The show will go on in a grand fashion.

We will have a volunteer meeting and potluck on Wednesday, August 29, at Nutmeg’s Ojai House, 304 N. Montgomery St. Ojai CA 93023, at 6:30 p.m. Rondia’s Kitchen (who will be providing food at the Bowlful of Blues) will be at the meeting serving hot dogs of all kinds and fresh popcorn. Please bring a side dish and/or beverage and meet the rest of the volunteer crew. Shift assignments will be made at that time.

Otherwise, see you on September 22,
The Bowlful of Blues production team

July 28, 2018
For Release: Immediately

25th Anniversary Bowlful of Blues Returns to Ojai on Saturday, Sept. 22

The Bowlful of Blues’ 25th anniversary festival will take place in Ojai’s beautiful Libbey Bowl on Saturday, September 22, from 4:00-9:30 p.m. Headlining the gala affair of world-class blues is Alligator Records’ rising stars, the Selwyn Birchwood Band. Nationally known artists, Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps, will appear with their down-home blend of Texas blues and New Orleans R&B. Rod Piazza, international touring harmonica master, will take the stage with special guest, boogie-woogie pianist Carl Sonny Leyland. Also appearing are the West Coast group Hot Roux with their infectious mix of Louisiana blues & swamp rock ’n’ roll, and the blazing guitar blues of the Kwan Telifaro Project. Multi-talented performer Gill Sotu will handle the MC duties.

Bowlful of Blues began in 1983 as a benefit concert for the Ojai Art Center. It was co-founded by the late Clarence “Cary” Sterling, musician and Art Center director, and fellow musician, Michael Kaufer, music branch chair on the Art Center board of directors at the time. After co-founder Sterling passed away in 2005, and in addition to other extenuating circumstances, the blues festival was not held for several years. In 2016, with the help of Michael’s brother, Lanny Kaufer, a jazz concert promoter in his own right, the 23rd Bowlful of Blues made a return to the newly refurbished Libbey Bowl and now, in 2018, will celebrate its historic 25th anniversary.

Great food and barbecue, beer and wine, arts, crafts and blues-themed booths will add to the celebration. Gates open at 3:00 p.m. and picnicking is welcome. Libbey Bowl is wheelchair accessible and handicapped parking and seating are available. Outside alcohol and pets (except documented service pets) are not allowed.

General admission (festival seating) is $40 in advance and $45 at the gate plus a required $3 bowl maintenance fee. A limited number of VIP tickets are available for $100 (fee included) and offer select front section seating, reserved parking, VIP lounge, premium beer and wine, complimentary snacks, and exclusive artist access

Tickets are available online at and at the following outlets: Cardinali Brothers Music, Studio Sauvageau, Attitude Adjustment Shop, Ojai Creates (Ojai); Iron & Resin, Coastal Postal and Video, Salzer’s Records (Ventura); Jensen Guitar & Music Co. (Santa Barbara); Island Outfitters (Carpinteria); Instrumental Music Co. (Thousand Oaks).

Volunteers are needed to staff the event in exchange for admission. Shifts run 2.5 to 3 hours. A volunteer meeting and party is scheduled for Wednesday, August 29, at Nutmeg’s Ojai House, 304 N. Montgomery St. Ojai CA 93023, at 6:30 p.m. Rondia’s Kitchen (who will be providing food at the Bowlful of Blues) will be at the meeting serving hot dogs of all kinds and fresh popcorn. Please bring a side dish and/or beverage and meet the rest of the volunteer crew. Shift assignments will be made at that time.

Non-food vendor spots are still open until August 22nd. Those interested in volunteering or vending can apply at or by phoning Michael at 805-836-4665.

Bowlful of Blues 2018 is presented by the Community Advocacy Coalition (CAC) of Ventura County, radio, and the Kaufer Bros, in association with HiHat Entertainment. Proceeds benefit music education projects and instrument donations for Ventura County youth. As a non-profit, locally produced benefit event, Bowlful of Blues counts on sponsors to underwrite costs and make these donations possible.

Sponsors already on board for the 25th anniversary show include KCSB FM 91.9, KCBX FM 90, Santa Barbara Blues Society, Ventura County Blues Society, DSR Audio, Ojai Valley Brewery, Casa Ojai, Oakridge Inn, Papa Lennon’s Pizzeria, Nutmeg’s Ojai House, Westridge Market, RE/MAX Realtors Don & Cheree Edwards, Southland Blues E-Weekly, Pacific Western Bank, Ojai Advanced Dentistry, Rainforest Plant Company, and Cal-State Site Services.

The Blues Angels Smiled in 2017

Thank you blues lovers of Ojai and beyond for helping make the 24th Bowlful of Blues a success. On behalf of our co-presenters, the Community Advocacy Coalition of Ventura County (CAC) and their affiliate internet/FM station, 99.1 Rhythm of the Coast, we appreciate all the support for this festival, from audience members to sponsors to volunteers to staffers to stellar performers to our A-1 stage and technical crew to ticket outlets and to the hosts of Libbey Bowl, the City of Ojai and their liaison Amber Young.

It was truly a joint effort that happened on a positive note, once again through the good graces of the community working together. We hope those who attended enjoyed the concert and Ojai’s version of celebrating this American musical tradition. Please watch for a forthcoming announcement about the distribution of the proceeds.

Local and area businesses who sponsored this year’s Bowlful of Blues, held on September 16, include, in alphabetical order: Attitude Adjustment Shoppe; California Solar Electric; Cal-State Site Services; Deer Lodge; DSR Audio; Don & Cheree Edwards, Realtors; JSL Technologies; La Barre Land and Development; Juan J. Lopez, D.D.S.; Nutmeg’s Ojai House; Oakridge Inn; Ojai Community Bank; Ojai Images, Ojai Lumber; Ojai Valley Imports; Pacific Western Bank; Papa Lennon’s Pizzeria; Parker Graphic Design; Donald Pavek; Rainforest Plant Co.; Santa Barbara Blues Society; Southland Blues E-Weekly; Topa Mountain Winery; Ventura County Blues Society; and Westridge Family Markets.

Thanks also to Julie Tumamait-Stenslie and the Tumamait Family, Joan Kemper, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Alumnae of Oxnard, Khaled and Waled Al-Awar of the Ojai Playhouse, the Ojai Valley News, Barbara Bowman, BD’s Earthtrine Farms at the Ojai Farmer’s Market, Villanova School, and Chisum Floors of Ojai.

How gratifying that so many local businesses, organizations and individuals contributed to making this annual event possible! In addition, further support came from the Bowlful family of ticket outlets: Cardinali Bros Music, Studio Sauvageau, Ojai Creates!, Attitude Adjustment Shoppe, Salzer’s Records, Coastal Postal on Seaward, Very Ventura Gift Shop & Gallery, Instrumental Music in Thousand Oaks, Island Outfitters in Carpinteria and Jensen’s Guitars and Music in Santa Barbara.

Since the Bowlful of Blues is truly a local, homegrown, “people’s festival,” we welcome input from all interested parties, either on these pages or to Michael or Lanny as we plan for our 25th anniversary on September 22, 2018.

Michael & Lanny Kaufer

2016: Fans Prompt Ojai Bowlful of Blues Return

Lanny and Michael Kaufer, Ojai’s real-life “blues brothers” at Libbey Bowl. Photo by Megan Lee (Dualistic Photography)

On Saturday, September 17, 2016, after an 11-year hiatus, Ojai’s Bowlful of Blues returned to Libbey Bowl, in Ojai’s Libbey Park.

“A big part of our reason for the return of the Bowlful of Blues after all these years is the fans,” said Michael Kaufer, Co-Founder/Producer of the festival in 1983, with the late Clarence Sterling. “Since the last concert in 2004 after Clarence’s death, people have continually stopped me on the streets asking for the concert’s return. Due to the event’s immense popularity, and the circumstances being right, the decision was made to reinstate the concert.  The 2016 event will mark Bowlful of Blues 23rd year.”

Those circumstances included the other half of the duo known as the “Ojai Blues Brothers,” concert promoter Lanny Kaufer, rejoining the team as Assistant Producer.

Selwyn Birchwood Band

Teresa James & the Rhythm Tramps

Rod Piazza

Hot Roux

Kwan Telifaro Project