Get ready to enjoy an all-day jam of live music when a wide variety of blues groups and musicians takes the stage at Reeves Park on Sept. 7 to celebrate Phoenixville’s 4th annual Blues Festival.
Festival organizer and Phoenixville resident Jim DiGuiseppe said those planning the day always strive to mix a blend of different Blues genres performed by local, regional and national talent.
“This year I believe we have our best line up ever. We attended the International Blues Competition in Memphis in January and scouted a few performers who we were lucky enough to secure for this year’s festival,” said DiGuiseppe.
This year, 4,000 to 5,000 fest-goers are expected to attend the Saturday festival, which will begin at noon and end at 10 p.m. The event is free to the public, and blues revelers are encouraged to bring canned goods as donations, instead of paying admission.
Said DiGuiseppe, “The festival continues to be free to the public (because we) receive sponsorships and personal donations to make it happen. We will continue to support PACS (Phoenixville Area Community Services) and are asking for canned donations as the “price” of admission. Our pre-party to be held at Club 212 the night before (the festival) is our biggest fundraiser and open to the public.”
Blues Festival is a rain or shine event, and although there is a hurricane rain date set aside for Sept. 9 the organizers are not expecting to need it.
Headlining the festival this year is Albert Castiglia, who can be heard on the Sirius Bluesville channel. He has played with blues legend Junior Wells, and will be performing from 7:20 p.m. until 8:35 p.m. The show will close with the Tribute to the Allman Brothers band performed by the group Hotlanta.
“We also have a harmonica clinic with harmonicas for sale and a roving brass band to play between sets. A full list of performers is available on our website and we encourage folks to come out early and stay for the day,” said DiGuiseppe.
The grounds of Reeves Park will be populated with many different vendors selling art, music memorabilia, jewelry and other wares, for people to peruse. There will also be food vendors offering BBQ, shrimp, grits, pizza, funnel cake, water ice and much more.
“We are really excited by our varied vendors and products,” said DiGuiseppe. “This year we opened our vendor applications to allow for a few more vendors than we had in the past. Two of our performing groups also make and sell guitars and will have booths set up showing their craft. We also have Blues artists, music, jewelry, hats and many other vendors lined up.”
Festival artwork on posters and t-shirts created by local artist Sean Halloran will also be available.
“Our “swag” has created a collectable among area residents and sells out most years,” said DiGuiseppe.
DiGuiseppe said Reeves Park provides the perfect backdrop to the festival and can accommodate the expected crowds and vendors. This year, the stage will have a new look.
“The Steel City Blues Society, in combination with bricks donated by McAvoy Brick Company, is just finishing off a new façade on the band shell. We are really looking forward to unveiling the new band shell look at the festival,” he explained.
Proceeds earned at Blues Fest go toward supporting programs in the community, including the Give the Gift of Music, PACS, Paint the Town Pink, the Phoenixville Library and other programs.
“For the first three years we have been able to provide over $30,000 back to the community. Give the Gift of Music is a scholarship program for underprivileged youth who want to experience music and we assist with lessons and instrumental rentals. Some of the recipients will be playing at this year’s festival as the Blues Kings,” DiGuiseppe said.
Blues Fest continues to add flavor to an already flourishing arts and culture scene in Phoenixville, and DiGuiseppe has heard time and time again that the borough residents and event organizers appreciate having a unique and successful annual showpiece event like Blues Fest.
“It’s nice to be able to provide such a great community event in a local setting. We often receive emails and messages from “out-of-towners” indicating how great Phoenixville is and how much they enjoyed what we do. Being able to bring great talent to the event and have the band shell as a backdrop really adds to the atmosphere,” said DiGuiseppe.
More information and the complete lineup list of performers is available at www.pvilleblues.org