It should be a feast for the senses at the 30th Erie Blues & Jazz Festival at Frontier Park August 5-7. A wide variety of blues and jazz music acts, film screenings, dance troupes, artist workshops, food vendors, breweries and more are part of the annual festival.
Person2Person, Grady Champion and Davy Knowles are set to headline the three-day outdoor festival, organizers say. The free celebration of art, music and the environment is held at the home of the Lake Erie Arboretum in Frontier Park.
Champion, a Grammy Award-winning Mississippi-based singer/songwriter/guitarist/harmonica player, will headline the blues-focused entertainment August 6 at 8 p.m. on the Main Stage. Champion has released 10 albums and his song, “Trust Yourself,” won a Grammy in 2003 because it was covered by Etta James, according to gradychampion.com.
Blues guitarist/singer/composer Knowleswhich takes place at 6 p.m. on August 6, has several of the top five Billboard Blues albums, according to davyknowles.com. His touring schedule has included appearances with, among others, The Who, Jeff Beck, Kid Rock, Joe Bonamassa and Peter Frampton, who called him “the gunslinger guitarist of the 21st century”.
Other performers on August 6 include artists from the Erie Phunkademic region, Matt “Broke” Boland’s Blues Batch and One World Tribe with West Indian Revelation.
Phunkademic, touted as one of Erie’s finest funk bands, features longtime stalwarts of the blues scene Eric Brewer on guitar and vocals and Ralph Reitinger on bass, among others. Meanwhile, Boland, longtime frontman of Matty B and the Pickles, has assembled an all-star lineup for his Blues Batch, which includes harmonica master Ron Yarosz and Boland’s blues mentor Rodger Montgomery at the guitar. The multicultural One World Tribe is collaborating with West Indian Revelation, led by longtime national artist Calvin “Fuzz” Samuel, for a set that is sure to include Afro-beat, funk, reggae and more.
Rich musical life:Erie ‘Fuzz’ bassist Samuel jammed with Hendrix, CSNY, local musicians
Person2Person closes the August 7 jazz music day at 8 p.m. on the main stage. The group is an intergenerational collaboration between saxophonists Eric Person and Nobody from Houston, which are unrelated. Eric Person has performed and recorded with many jazz, rock and funk legends, while Houston Person is part of the lineage of soul jazz tenor saxophone masters, according to festival organizers.
The August 7 musical lineup also includes jazz veterans The cat is a bear, Stephen Trohoske‘s ElectroHOPE Ensemble and Buffalo-based Latin music specialists Sol and Sombra. Erie bassist and songwriter Trohoske has assembled an eclectic group of musicians, including Brewer and other players from Erie, Chicago, Buffalo and the UK.
Programming of free outdoor concerts:Bands, Schedules Set for Live Summer Shows in the Erie Area
more than music
The first day of the festival features two blues-based films presented by the Film Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania. “St. Louis Blues,” a 1929 short film by WC Handy, and “Deep Blues,” a 1992 documentary by Robert Mugge, will screen beginning at 8:30 p.m. at the McCain Amphitheater, located next to the new metal slides of Frontier Park, down the hill from the LEAF Community Building. “Deep Blues” stars Robert Palmer and features northern Mississippi blues musicians RL Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, who appeared at the 1996 Erie Festival.
Also this year, the Erie Dance Consortium helped the festival organize a series of dance performances and workshops on August 6 and 7 at the amphitheater near the new slides, said board member John Vanco. of the festival and artistic director. Djapo, the African dance and drum troupe from the Djapo Cultural Arts Institute in Cleveland, will host the dance presentations. Saturday’s entertainment will conclude with a fire dance by Jennifer Dennehy and Samantha Cyparski on the main stage grounds from 9-9:30 p.m.
Vanco said the Aug. 6 poetry readings were also extended with an open-mic program hosted by Mabel Howard, “similar to the presentations she runs at 1020 Collective“An expanded lineup of visual artists, artisans and environmental organizations will also feature in The Village,” Vanco said.
Select Lake Erie Ale Trail breweries and regional food trucks will also be at the festival.
Entertainment in the Erie area:Outdoor concerts continue in the area all summer
The future of the festival?
Vanco said the biggest challenge in organizing the 30th Erie Blues & Jazz Festival was getting enough financial support to put on the kind of program people expect. The festival relies on corporate sponsors, donations and volunteers to run smoothly.
Highmark and Allegheny Health Network were the biggest donors this year, but several longtime sponsors cut back on their support, Vanco said in an email.
“Despite its unwavering popularity, the future of the event is in question,” Vanco said. “A small group of volunteers are making this weekend happen, and some of us are ready to take it slow. I’m hopeful that a younger generation of art and music lovers will step up to to move the festival forward and encourage people who are interested in being part of it to contact us.”
If you are going to
- What: Erie Blues and Jazz Festival
- When: August 5, from 7 p.m.; August 6, 12pm-9.30pm; August 7, 2-9:30 p.m.
- Where: Frontier Park, 1501 W. Sixth St.
- Admission: Free (donations to Bucket Brigade are accepted)
- For more information: Visit eriebluesandjazz.com Where facebook.com/BluesandJazzFestival or call 814-453-5323.
Friday at the McCain Amphitheater
- 7 p.m.: Drum circle, hosted by Lynn Johnson for Erie Dance Consortium. Everyone is welcome to join.
Saturday on the main stage
- 12 p.m.-1:30 p.m.: Phunkademic
- 2-3:30 p.m.: Matt “Broke” Boland’s Blues Batch
- 4-5:30 p.m.: 1 world tribe with Caribbean revelation
- 6-7:30 p.m.: Davy Knowles
- 8-9:30 a.m.: Champion Grady
Sunday on the main stage
- 2-3:30 p.m.: Cat’s A Bear
- 4-5:30 p.m.: ElectroHOPE Ensemble by Stephen Trohoske
- 6-7:30: Sol Y Sombra
- 8am-9:30am: Person 2 Person with Eric Person and Houston Person