What do you get when you combine a beautiful summer weekend, a gorgeous location, incredible non-stop music, enthusiastic crowds, delicious Festival food AND a great and noble cause? The Pittsburgh Blues Festival, of course! What a history, 20 years, 287 bands and 10 million meals!
In July, the Pittsburgh Blues Festival marked the joyous occasion of its 20th anniversary with a spectacular three-day celebration that attracted people of all ages and interests from all over the region! The Festival is a popular summer tradition that is the primary fundraiser for the Food Bank, and this year‘s event was a great success on every front. Well, almost every front: the weather could have been a bit more cooperative!
Occasional cloudy skies and raindrops, however, failed to dampen the spirits of the musicians, the crowds, the volunteers, the vendors and the Festival sponsors, who all came together in an inspiring display of community and caring. On Friday, the Festival kicked off with a powerful slate of exciting performers: Mahajibee, Norm Nardini and the Pittsburgh All Stars, and Bernard Allison. Tethered hot air balloon rides, sponsored by People’s Natural Gas, who is also the title sponsor for the event, ran all afternoon and evening, and gave riders a memorable experience and beautiful view of lovely Hartwood Acres, the Festival’s home. “The balloon rides are very popular and are an excellent fundraiser,” says Alyssa Jurewicz-Johns, director of community engagement for the Food Bank.
This year’s special anniversary demanded an equally special headliner, and Dr. John proved to be a perfect choice. The multi talented, venerable singer and musician performed on Saturday night. According to Jurewicz-Johns, “Dr. John and the Nigh Trippers gave it their all and played on as the thunderstorms cleared. They came back out and played for at least another half hour. What a treat for the fans!” Saturday’s performers also included Albert Cummings, Bo Hogs, Trampled Under Foot and Jill West and Blues Attack. Sunday brought rain and wind, but the show must go on and it certainly did, with every performer giving their all. The Nieds Hotel Band, Eugene and the Nightcrawlers, the Ben Miller Band, J.J. Grey and Mofro closed the Festival. This year, the Kids Zone was also back, with a new feature: workshops sponsored by various community groups. Kids Zone is a large tent where children have their own space and can enjoy crafts, games, face painting and fun activities while learning about healthy nutrition and cooking, care of the environment, gardening and the problem of hunger.
The Food Bank wishes to express heartfelt thanks to all the sponsors, committee members, volunteers, Food Bank staff, donors and musicians who made this anniversary event such a marvelous success. Over twenty years, the Blues Festival has generated more than two million dollars. The Festival makes it possible for the Food Bank to provide meals for neighbors in need across southwestern Pennsylvania and to raise awareness of the problems of poverty, hunger and food insecurity.
Making music, and making a difference – The Pittsburgh Blues Festival!