July 25 – 27
20 years, 287 bands, 10 million meals. Rock out for a great cause this weekend at the 20th annual Pittsburgh Blues Festival, while also supporting the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Running July 25th through July 27th at scenic Hartwood Acres, the three-day festival features musical entertainment by an impressive lineup of national, regional and local blues-based acts.
The festival kicks off with its special Friday event which is free to all who bring a bag of non-perishable grocery items to donate to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Through its collection of generous donations, the blues festival has become the Food Bank’s largest fundraising event, raising more than $2 million to feed Western Pennsylvanians in need. Friday’s diverse lineup of music features Bernard Allision, Norm Nardini & The Pittsburgh All-Stars, Billy the Kid and Mahajibee.
On Saturday, don’t miss legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Dr. John. Née Malcolm John Rebennack, Jr. in 1940, the iconic singer-songwriter, pianist and guitarist is known for his eclectic mix of blues, pop, jazz, zydeco, boogie woogie and rock & roll. Active as a session musician, musical collaborator and solo artist since the late 1950s, Dr. John’s career spans 20 albums, six Grammys, the 1973 hit, “Right Place Wrong Time” and more. Bringing the rich sounds of New Orleans to Hartwood Acres, Dr. John has played guitar on some of the greatest records to come out of the Big Easy, including those by Professor Longhair, Art Neville, Joe Tex and Frankie Ford.
Also on Saturday’s rocking bill are Albert Cummings, Wesley Bright & The Hi-Lites, Trampled Under Foot, Jill West & the Blues Attack and the Bo Hogs. Return to wrap up your blues weekend on Sunday, with a varied lineup featuring JJ Grey & Mofro, the Spin Doctors, the Ben Miller Band, Jill Simmons & Friends, Eugene & the Nightcrawlers and the Nieds Hotel Band.
In addition to extensive live music, the family-friendly festival also includes attractions such as a KidZone with arts and crafts activities; a Blues Festival History Tent; tethered hot air balloon rides; food trucks; artisan vendors; nutrition education; games; and craft beers.
Founded in 1995 with the help of Ron “Moondog” Esser, owner of one of the country’s top blues joints located in nearby Blawnox, PA, the Pittsburgh Blues Festival first took place at the Miller Lite Riverplex at Sandcastle Waterpark featuring headliners Koko Taylor, Jimmy Thackery and Debbie Davies. Over the next 19 years, the festival moved on to the I.C. Light Amphitheatre and Pittsburgh Brewing, eventually finding its permanent home at Hartwood Acres. Legends such as Buddy Guy, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Taj Mahal, Brian Setzer, Susan Tedeschi, Johnny Winter, Steve Earl, Leon Russell, Pinetop Perkins, John Mayall and Robert Cray have all been featured over the past two decades.