Phoenixville is getting ready to groove to the blues in Reeves Park on Sept. 6 with their fifth annual Blues Festival. The all day jam, which features a wide variety of blues bands and musicians, begins at 12 p.m. and runs through 10 p.m.
Jim DiGuiseppe, organizer of the festival, said this year organizers are doing a 'best of' theme by bringing back some of the best acts from the previous four festivals. He said they select bands each year by attending a blues competition in Memphis and aim to choose groups that will provide a cross-section of different blues genres.
'We like to mix in local with national and regional acts,' said DiGuiseppe. 'We go to the International Blues Competition to scout possible bands. This year one of our bands, Billy the Kid and the Regulators, came in third out of over 200 bands. They are from Pittsburgh and are making the trip over to play our festival.'
Each year attendance to the festival has grown, and thousands of people are expected to set up picnic blankets and chairs in Reeves Park to enjoy the day. Dozens of artists, craftsmen and food vendors will have booths set up as well for the public to browse.
'Special attention is paid to local vendors and most, if not all, are within 30 miles of Phoenixville. We have expanded our vendor list, so there will be many more and new vendors for fans to peruse,' commented DiGuiseppe. 'Many of the same vendors we have had in the past will be back, including Jimmy's BBQ, Petrucci's, Pizza Wagon and more.'
DiGuiseppe originally came up with the concept for Blues Fest by admiring the stage in Reeves Park. As a Phoenixville resident, he thought it'd be great to bring a music fest to town each year for music lovers to come together in the community.
'We loved the band shell as a backdrop, something seemed right about hosting a blues festival there,' said DiGuiseppe. 'It can easily accommodate the crowds of over 5,000 that we have had, and expect this year. People come and set up their chair and blanket and hang out all day.'
The festival is free to the public and attendees are encouraged to bring canned goods to donate in lieu of admission. Last year, Blues Fest fans donated more than one ton of goods. Proceeds from Blues Fest go toward supporting many different groups in the Phoenixville area.
'We are very proud that in the first four years we have been able to donate over $50,000 back to the community. Give the Gift of Music, the Phoenixville Library, Paint the Town Pink, PACS and others have benefited from our festival. All money raised stays in the community,' noted DiGuiseppe.
The Blues Fest pre-party will be held the night before on Sept. 5 at Bistro 212 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. and will feature an open beer bar, free appetizers, raffles and live music.
'This is our biggest fundraiser and is open to the public. We have many tickets left,' said DiGuiseppe.
Pre-party tickets, the Blues Fest schedule and a list of performers are available at www.pvilleblues.org.