Jun 11, 2023

Port Huron Art on the River to return for 12th year

Port Huron's Art on the River, the Blue Water Area's premier art and music festival, is returning to the city for its 12th year June 9 to 11.

The event, which is hosted by Citizens for a Vibrant Community, includes art workshops, hands-on art, music to dance to and food to enjoy along the shores of the St. Clair River on Merchant Street and in Kiefer Park.

"We have so much going on this year with Art on the River," Citizens for a Vibrant Community President Trina Avedisian said. "We have so much art that it's hard to know where to start. Our featured artist is Avery Campbell, who is a young, up-and-coming artist from Fort Gratiot. She will be working on an original piece for the event."

Campbell is a local, self-taught artist whose goal is to show everyone how she sees the world from her lens, with beauty in the simplest of moments, according to the event website at

"She has always been drawn to creating, even at a young age," the website states. "She remembers finishing her first acrylic painting on canvas at 15 years old. She has been painting for almost 10 years now."

Campbell feels most inspired while in nature, whether it is going on hikes or just being outside and enjoying the fresh air.

"The Blue Water Art Club will be there doing plein air and working with the kids," Avedisian said.

Plein-air painting is the act of painting outdoors.

"They will have original pieces for sale, as well," Avedisian continued. "We have many artists and crafters coming from all over — one as far away as Los Angeles, California."

She said there will be over 30 artists participating in the event, with art such as paintings, jewelry, gemstones, ceramics, pottery, photography, candles, soap, needlework, garden art, yarn work, metalwork, leatherwork and more.

"I buy all my Christmas and birthday gifts from these guys," she said.

There will also be food vendors with tacos, sandwiches and more available.

Avedisian said people have called Art on the River a miniature version of Royal Oak's Soaring Eagle Arts, Beats and Eats event.

"They have expressed that they love the vibe of the event and that they love they can come and spend all day and not get bored," she said. "They love our artists and crafters and the bands. We also have a rocking beverage tent hosted by Wolverine Market and Andy Bakko, who does a great job of making it a fun place to be."

Avedisian said that the band lineup for the Art on the River is "amazing." The theme for this year is the blues, states.

"The main bands are legends and people will want to see them," she said. "Headlining on Friday, June 9, Brotha Earth will start at 9:30 p.m. Brotha Earth is a five-piece band featuring three former touring members of the legendary Motown band Rare Earth. Brotha Earth brings everyone a truly high-powered concert experience. They have collectively entertained audiences internationally for decades. Each show welcomes old fans and creates new ones."

Also included in the June 9 lineup is Detroit Blu with local drummer Donny Burton at 6 p.m. and Motor City Josh & the Big Three at 7:45 p.m.

"Headlining on Saturday, June 10, there will be two amazing performances," Avedisian said.

At 7:45 p.m., Bobby Murray and the Woodward Horns will join forces with Barbara Payton, of Port Huron, and Lenny Watkins, of Detroit.

"Bobby Murray is known for his blues guitar and is a songwriter and record producer who has played in Etta James’ backing band for 23 years, performed on three award-winning recordings with James and B.B. King and released four solo albums," she said. "In 2011, the Detroit Blues Society granted Murray their Lifetime Achievement Award. Murray currently leads his own band in Metro Detroit and has won several Detroit Music Awards. His latest solo recording, ‘Love Letters From Detroit,’ was released in 2021 and was granted the Outstanding Blues Recording of the Year at the Detroit Music Awards."

Avedisian described Payton as a Detroit rock singer/songwriter "with a soulful, bluesy voice."

"She is recognized as one of Detroit's most powerful and engaging live performers," she said. "In addition to her solo career, Barbara has toured as a background singer for both Bob Seger and Kid Rock."

Lenny Watkins is a "Detroit born and bred blues and soul singer," Avedisian said.

"Leonardo ‘Lenny’ Watkins is certainly a jewel in the crown of the current Detroit blues scene," she said. "He is a keeper of a proud tradition of a musical city that has spawned the likes of John Lee Hooker, Little Willie John and Jackie Wilson, among so many talented others."

At 9:30 p.m., the Pat Travers band will finish out the night.

"Travers was born and raised in Toronto, Canada," Avedisian said. "He began playing guitar at age 12 after seeing Jimi Hendrix play at a concert. The guitar Travers most often appeared with on stage and on album covers in the band's early years was a 1964-65 model double cutaway, double humbucker pickup Gibson Melody Maker. He formed the Pat Travers band around 1978 and toured with Rush during their ‘Drive til You Die’ tour."

"He released ‘Heat in the Street’ around 1978 and their next album, entitled ‘Live! Go for What You Know,’ which charted in the Top 40 in the United States and included the tune ‘Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights),’ originally recorded by Little Walter, credited to Stan Lewis, which climbed even higher on the charts, entering the Top 20," she continued. "’Snortin’ Whiskey’ was a major American radio hit from 1980's ‘Crash and Burn.’ He signed a deal with Blues Bureau International Records in the ‘90s and went on to release several more albums."

Also included in the June 10 lineup are Sheila Landis at 3 p.m., Cadillac Phoenix at 4:30 p.m. and Carl Cabellero and the Wreckage at 6 p.m.

The June 11 lineup includes the Port Huron Northern High School choir at noon, The Eatals at 1 p.m., Kurt Gersch at 2 p.m. and Restoration Community Church at 3 p.m.

Avedisian said that Art on the River is in its 12th year.

"We missed 2020 because of COVID, but we have been consistent and growing," she said.

She said that Art on the River draws between 8,000 and 10,000 people over the weekend.

"We hope that our lineup this year will draw even more," she said.

Avedisian is looking forward to good weather and "a lot of people having a really good time."

"I look forward to seeing all my old friends who come each year — artists and crafters," she said. "I look forward working with my volunteers and just having fun. Mostly I look forward to all the love we all have that weekend."

Art on the River will be open from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. June 9, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 10 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 11 at Kiefer Park, located at 500 Merchant St.

"If people haven't been to Art on the River, they need to come," Avedisian said. "There is a fun vibe there and, as I said, a whole lot of love. The folks who are there as artists and crafters are just the most talented people. We are so blessed to have the Blue Water Art Club involved even more this year, and most of all, we are so thankful to all our sponsors, because without them, this event wouldn't ever happen. And even more so, we could not do this without Dawn Cooper, vice president; Andy Bakko, treasurer; Jim Sommerville, stage manager; Jennifer Linder, exhibitor chair; Beth Dionne, food vendor chair; Hope Doerzbacher, secretary; Virginia Ferguson; Michelle Beavers, and Mark Buckely."

For more information about Art on the River, visit or

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