Music fans from throughout the region came to Reeves Park on Saturday Sept. 7 to enjoy a full day of live music at Phoenixville’s fourth annual Blues Festival. Dozens of musicians took to the stage from noon until 10 p.m. Thousands of people set up chairs and picnic blankets in the park to enjoy the sunny weather and many varied performances throughout the day. Proceeds raised and donated canned goods went to support local programs in the community including PACS, Give the Gift of Music, Paint the Town Pink and the Phoenixville Library.
Blues Festival organizer Jim DiGuiseppe said 6,000 people attended this year, a new record for the festival. Dozens of vendor tents were set up with artists and craftsman selling their unique wares, which included handmade cigar box guitars, hats, jewelry and artwork by Exton’s Dane Tilghman. There were also many different food vendors to choose from.
“Once again the community demonstrated its heart and generosity by donating canned items to PACS. We also raised more money the day of the festival then we ever have in the past. It was great to receive so much support from the festival crowd. The sales of Festival items (T-shirts, posters etc.) was the best of any festival yet,” said DiGuiseppe.
Many national and regional blues musicians played the festival again this year, including artists that can be heard regularly on Sirius/XM Bluesville, as well as artists that have shared the stage with giants of the blues genre. DiGuiseppe said all the performances were good but named co-headliner guitar virtuosos The Albert Castiglia Band (from Miami, FL) and the Noah Wotherspoon Band (from Dayton, OH) as the stand out high points of the day.
“If one must choose a single highlight, it would have to be when Albert Castiglia invited Noah Wotherspoon and Nick Cianci (from the band Riley Road) to join him in an electrifying jam session of blues guitar improvisational magic,” said DiGuiseppe.
DiGuiseppe continued, “After a high energy display of harmonica wizardry, Dockta D and the Infirmary conducted a harmonica clinic so popular with audience members that the entire supply of harmonicas sold out. The performance of Riley Road, a trio of local high school seniors and products of Rock & Roll After School, was also an audience favorite. Their growth as performers was abundantly clear, after playing two songs at the first festival they commanded the stage for a full set this year.”
Philadelphia based group, the Hoppin’ John Orchestra, performed onstage as well as in between sets. The 10-man band of professional musicians strolled through the crowd playing “N’awlins” style music, complete with brass instruments, for a very enthusiastic crowd, including a very boisterous rendition of “When the Saints Come Marching In”.
Closing the show once again was a Blues Fest favorite, the group “Hotlanta - An Allman Brothers tribute Band”.
Blues Fest continues to be growing in popularity every year as attendance numbers continue to rise. DiGuiseppe said that the band shell at Reeves Park as the perfect location for the event, and offered compliments to the high quality vendors and support staff. He said the staff worked hard to keep performers in a well-paced schedule throughout the day.
“Most important of all is the warm, happy, family-friendly and collegial atmosphere that has permeated all four festivals. We would like to give special recognition to Dave Holder and Dan Mincarelli, without their assistance there would not have been a festival. They worked tirelessly for months on fundraising and management,” remarked DiGuiseppe.
“Every single vendor has said they want to return next year and every artist said they’d gladly accept an invitation to perform again… …There must be something right going on at the Phoenixville Blues Festival,” DeGuiseppe stated adamantly.
He added that the planning for next year’s Blues Fest has already begun, and several Steel City Blues Society members are to attend the International Blues Challenge in Memphis late January 2014 to scout bands.
He also recognized the volunteers at Blues Fest, who were extremely helpful, and he also encourages people to join the Steel City Blues Society to help with the 10 month planning process of Blues Fest.
More information on Blues Fest is available at pvilleblues.org.