Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank announced the musical lineup for the 16th Annual Pittsburgh Blues Festival, presented by First Commonwealth. The Blues Festival is the Food Bank’s largest annual fundraiser and will be held at Hartwood Acres for the sixth year, thanks to a partnership with Allegheny County.
The Festival begins July 23 with Free Friday, when admission to the Festival is free with the donation of a bag of nonperishable groceries for the Food Bank. Friday’s bands are The Iguanas, and Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band. Both groups are from New Orleans. The Iguanas add Hispanic and other cultural influences to their New Orleans sound, but Chubby Carrier is Louisiana zydeco blues.
Saturday’s headliner is the Eric Burdon & the Animals. Part of the original “British invasion,” the Animals brought the sound of gritty British street blues to America. Other groups performing on Saturday include Sonny Moorman Group, Peter Karp & Sue Foley, and Nick Curran & the LowLifes. Sonny Moorman Group hails from Cincinnati, a hard working road trio whose influences include ZZ Top and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Peter Karp and Sue Foley, individual blues musicians, are currently touring together with a concept called “He Said, She Said,” with new songs based on some correspondence the two friends had while touring individually. Nick Curran, formerly of the Fabulous Thunderbirds among other groups, now steers his own band to a more eclectic sound that combines parts of blues, punk, rockabilly and rock ‘n roll.
On Sunday the Blues Festival will close with Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Shepherd signed his first recording contract when he was 16. In sixteen more years, he has sold millions of albums worldwide, received four Grammy nominations, two Billboard Music Awards, the Blues Foundation’s Keeping The Blues Alive Award, and a Blues Music Award among many other accolades. He has had four No. 1 blues albums and a string of No. 1 mainstream rock singles and his recent project, 10 Days Out; Blues From The Backroads, has not only received critical acclaim, but was also the # 1 selling Blues Album of the Year in 2007.
Other musicians playing on Sunday include Larry McCray Band and Tinsley Ellis. Once an assemblyline worker at General Motors, since 1991 Larry McCray has added his rich deep voice to singing the blues. Tinsley Ellis plays the blues of the Deep South in the tradition of influences like Derek Trucks and Freddie King. His style has been said to be “rock power and blues feeling.”
Interspersed with this line-up will be local blues bands, including Mahajibbee, Miss Freddye & Blues Faze, theCAUSE, Sweaty Betty Blues Band, Norman Nardini & the Pittsburgh All-Stars, and Ron Yarosz & the Vehicle. Ron Yarosz was this year’s local IBC winner.
Tickets to the Festival on Saturday and Sunday are $25.00 each day. Advance ticket, weekend pass, family fun pack discounts, and – new this year – student discounts can be found on the Festival website, pghblues.com. Parking is free.
Admission for children under 12 is also free. The Blues Festival is family friendly, with children’s activities planned all weekend at the Festival’s KidZone, sponsored by UPMC Health Plan and Children’s Hospital. Kids can do arts and crafts, learn about blues music, enjoy healthy snacks and play games under the supervision of experienced staff with Act 33/34 clearances. More information about the Pittsburgh Blues Festival can be found at the official Festival Web site Pittsburgh Blues Festival at pghblues.com or by calling the Blues Hotline at (412) 460-BLUE.