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Pennsylvania Blues Festival

2016 PA Blues Fest posterFormerly known as the Pocono Blues Festival, the Pennsylvania Blues Festival will celebrate its 25th annual show at Split Rock Resort in Lake Harmony, PA, September 16-18, 2016. This multi-stage event will take place both outdoors and indoors throughout this popular Pocono Mountain resort with related activities taking place at venues throughout the community of Lake Harmony. 2016 marks the first time that this festival will take place in September, with each previous event taking place in either late July or early August, but the change in NASCAR’s schedule at nearby Pocono International Raceway caused a logistical conflict which made it necessary to move the festival to a weekend later in the season.

Organizer Michael Cloeren takes pride in the authenticity of the music presented at this festival as well as the quality of the blues music fans who attend each year. Attendees regularly come from about 25 states and Canada and this year’s festival expects and attendance somewhere around 5,000. Aside from the live music, the festival will feature food and craft vendors and an exclusive Masterclass instructed by Sunday’s main stage headliner Ronnie Earle. Other highlights at this year’s festival include Toronzo Cannon, who was just signed by Alligator Records, folklorist Guy Davis and Kenny Neal who is making his sixth appearance at the festival. Also performing for 2016 is Zac Harmon, Anthony Geraci & the Boston Blues Allstars, The Ronnie Baker Brooks Blues Band, Slam Allen, Blackburn, The Campbell Brothers, Andy T Nick Nixon Band, Toronzo Cannon, Delmark Chicago Revue, Vanessa Collier, Harrison Kennedy, Andy T Nick Nixon Band and Beareather Reddy.

2016 PA Blues Fest lineup

Cloreren says he books differently than most promoters and likes to choose acts from three general groups – one third classic festival artists, one third of newer artists or those who have never played the festival before, and one third artists from a geographical distance, usually west of the Mississippi. In all these cases, he says he looks for artists that are the “real deal”, being rooted in the blues from the beginning of their career. The promoter of several festivals, Cloreren encourages people to come out to this one because; “even if they think they don’t like blues, its a music fest and coming may change your life”, adding “blues enthusiasts are the best people.”

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Pennsylvania Blues Festival online

Pennsylvania Blues Festival on Facebook
Pennsylvania Blues Festival website
Michael Cloeren Productions

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Gospel Blues at Briggs Farm

Article contributors:
Margaret Neiswender and Kevin Lizbinski

Sunday Gospel Blues

For the first time in its 19 year history, the Briggs Farm Blues Festival was extended to include Sunday entertainment in its annual mid-July festival. On Sunday, July 10th, a Gospel-themed show was performed by three artists from mid morning to mid afternoon. For this inaugural Sunday, Briggs offered an exceptional lineup of three soulful and passionate artists (along with some special guests), who perfectly embody the essence of Gospel Blues.

Vanessa CollierStarting things off was multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Vanessa Collier from nearby Williamsport, PA. Vanessa started very young playing the saxophone and began recording music by age 12. She was inspired by artists such as Lori Jordan and Bonnie Raitt but soon developed her own style of songwriting and performing. In 2014, she released her debut album, Heart Soul & Saxophone, and her dynamic performance on Sunday was a potent mix of both original songs and original interpretations of blues and soul classics.

Vanessa Collier Online

Vanessa Collier on Twitter  Vanessa Collier on Facebook
Vanessa Collier website
Buy Heart Soul & Saxophone


Victor WainwrightMaking their second appearance at this year’s festival, following his main stage performance on Saturday night, Victor Wainwright & the Wild Roots blended their entertaining mixture of rock, boogie-woogie, and honky tonk, with the Gospel blues theme of the day. The Savannah, GA native was a master of the piano and keyboards on stage, complementing his subtle but soulful vocals, and was backed by a large ensemble of superb musicians. Sunday’s performance also included special guest appearances by pianist Michael Czubaj and vocalist Barbara Blue, “The Reigning Queen of Beale St”.

Victor Wainwright online

Victor Wainwright on Twitter  Victor Wainwright on Reverbnation  Victor Wainwright on Facebook
Victor Wainwright and the Wild Roots website
Buy Boom Town


Alexis P SuterHeadlining Sunday’s show and closing out the weekend of incredible music was Alexis P. Suter & the Ministers of Sound. This very special set of Gospel Blues was particularly noteworthy because the live performance was being recorded for an upcoming LP release which will be published on the new Briggs Farm Records label. Suter is based in Brooklyn, NY but has strong Pennsylvania ties through her musical performances and hopes to eventually move to the Keystone state. She has performed at this festival many times in the past and has developed close ties with the Briggs family. This particular Gospel blues performance was very special for Suter because she is also a minister and explains; “ministering can be anything you love to do – each one of us has a ministry- We happen to minister music to everyone to share love and peace cause that’s what its all about…”

Alexis P Suter online

Alexis P Suter on Twitter  Alexis P Suter on Reverbnation  Alexis P Suter on Facebook
Alexis P. Suter website
Buy All for Loving You


Check out the below video with some highlights from the 2016 Sunday Gospel Blues show at Briggs Farm.

Briggs Farm online

Briggs Farm Blues Festival on Twitter  Briggs Farm Blues Festival on Facebook
Briggs Farm Festival website

Article contributors:
Margaret Neiswender and Kevin Lizbinski

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