This weekend (October 6, 7, 8) marks the beginning of the Reading Blues Fest, a three day celebration of blues music in Reading, Pennsylvania with performances by top notch artists. Headlining this inaugural event will be Kenny Neal and Samantha Fish on Friday, Robert Cray and Blind Boy Paxton on Saturday and Jonny Lang with Dana Fuchs Duo on Sunday. The festival is a project of Berks Arts Council, a local arts agency whose mission is to cultivate, promote, and support the arts in the local community.
This festival was, in part, the vision of the late Al Boscov, who long wanted a Fall festival to complement the long running and highly successful Berks Jazz Fest, which is held in Reading each Spring. To get this initiative rolling, Boscov enlisted John Ernesto, who had been the head of Jazz Fest for 24 of its 28 years. Ernesto had, in recent years, been bringing in some diverse acts from genres, such as Gospel and Blues, to the Jazz Fest in recent years. The Initiative to get get things rolling for this inaugural Reading Blues Fest began in December 2016, two months before Boscov’s death, with the festival officially being announced this past June.
The festival’s official M.C. for 2017 will be producer and promoter Michael Cloeren, the founder of The Pennsylvania Blues Festival and a veteran of over 80 music festivals since the early 1990s. Cloeren is also the current manager of Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe, PA, a venue which brings in top-notch musical acts year-round. Cloeren listed three reasons why Reading Blues Fest will stand out as a top-notch festival:
- A World Class Lineup
- The Host Venue (Doubletree by Hilton with beautiful, intimate ballrooms)
- Seasoned Staff, with personnel from the Jazz Fest being used
Beyond the headliner musical acts, the Reading Blues Fest will also feature several other musical acts and special presentations. Some of these include The Alexis P Suter Band with the Berks Horns for late night after-parties on both Friday and Saturday nights, Teeny Tucker’s Women In The Blues Presentation on Saturday, which will look at an in-depth history over the past century, and a VIP-only brunch featuring Slam Allen Blues Band on Sunday, a special perk for those who purchase the weekend’s limited VIP package.
Most of the Reading Blues Fest events will take place at the Doubletree, with the exception of the Blind Boy Paxton / Robert Cray show on Saturday night, which will be held at the nearby Santander Performing Arts Theatre.
For more info, visit the Reading Blues Fest website.