The original Ojai Bowlful of Blues is back!
“Not a day goes by that one of us doesn’t hear a fan say, ‘I miss the Bowlful of Blues’ or ‘When are you bringing the blues festival back?’ For over 20 years Michael produced the Bowlful of Blues to enthusiastic response with attendance never dipping below 1000 people. Now, with the renovated Libbey Bowl back in the city’s hands, it’s time to revive this legacy event for the Ojai community. We believe that our years of experience combined with the support of Ojai Mardi Gras Wake-Up! Krewe and Ojai Concert Series is a formula for success that can create a model for locally produced events in Libbey Bowl.”
Michael and Lanny Kaufer
“Ojai’s Blues Brothers”
Michael T. Kaufer, Ojai, CA
Co-Founder/Producer, Bowlful of Blues, 1983-2005
Michael Kaufer began a lifetime love affair with the blues after being introduced to the music by his brother, Lanny, in their late teens. Later, Michael would incorporate blues into his own piano playing. At the age of 32, when on the board of the Ojai Art Center, Michael, along with close friend and Art Center director, Clarence R. Sterling, Jr., staged a blues concert in 1983 in Ojai’s Libbey Park Bowl as a benefit for the Art Center. Its success led to a second year, even more successful, and the annual Bowlful of Blues festival was born. With Lanny on board as an assistant producer, the popular, bowl-filling concert became an internationally acclaimed event for the next two decades, featuring many of the genre’s great artists as well as drawing upon the wealth of local blues talent. At one point during his tenure as Bowlful of Blues producer, Michael was offered a position as manager for blues piano and vocal legend, Charles Brown, composer of the classics, “Merry Christmas, Baby” and “Driftin’ Blues.” That association led to other personal management, booking agent, and tour management positions with several international blues, jazz and Louisiana zydeco artists.
Lanny Kaufer, Ojai, CA
Assistant Producer, Bowlful of Blues, 1983-2005
Concert Promoter, Wheeler Hot Springs, 1987-1996
Lanny Kaufer, like his brother Michael, has been a lifelong fan of the blues since picking up a harmonica after seeing and hearing Muddy Waters’ band at the Troubadour nightclub in Los Angeles in the mid-1960s. Early in the Ojai Bowlful of Blues era, Lanny joined Michael’s team as Assistant Producer. During that time, in the mid-1980s, he became Restaurant Manager at the family business, Wheeler Hot Springs Restaurant and Spa, where he took over producing the jazz and blues concert series begun by his late brother John Kaufer. Over the next 10 years, Wheeler Hot Springs became “one of the finer venues for jazz in Southern California” (Los Angeles Times), playing host to a legion of blues and jazz legends including Mose Allison, John Hammond, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Charles Brown, Les McCann, Eddie Harris, the Manhattan Transfer, Charlie Byrd, Ray Brown, Robben Ford, and many more.