Pittsburgh-Heritage Blues Festival 2009 by Monica L. Yasher

Posted on 8/21/2009 by Monica Yasher

As promised, I wanted to give everyone an account of the Heritage Blues Festival. And, a special thank you to Bruce Wheeler who is the chair for the entire event! I had the opportunity to speak with many of the artists at this festival. And, I couldn't help but watch Bruce as I was backstage. He seemed to be EVERYWHERE! I overhead that he even setup chairs for the venue the night before. When I spoke with Bruce, he told me he helped with everything but THAT! I noticed that Bruce touched base with every artist that was going to perform. Bruce, next year if Maureen and I are there, we will have to get you some pictures for your scrapbook! Bruce was quite the host, and I didn't see one picture taken of him.

I told Maureen that I felt like I was on a mini blues vacation! The weather was excellent, the entertainment incredible, and the boats on the river were just vacation like!

Unfortunately for me, I couldn't attend on Friday evening to see Eden Brent, John Nemeth, The Soul of John Black, or Elvin Bishop. It seems like the Pittsburgh area was quite the hot spot this particular weekend. I also had to miss George Thorogood and Jonny Lang that same night! What Maureen and I did do that night, was go see some rockin' blues with Foghat! What a great group of guys. And, to think that Bryan Bassett is originally a Pittsburgher! Look for the upcoming interview with Roger Earl!

It seems like Maureen and I were driving and driving on Saturday to get to the festival. We thought there was some serious construction and took a bunch of back roads. Well, at least we had a lot of time to talk about stuff!

When we did finally arrive, I met up with my friend Tuck (who is quite the harmonica player BTW) at the Blues Society of Western PA tent. Tuck asked me if I knew Little Joe McLerran who happened to be standing right there! Well within the next hour I knew a lot about the 2009 IBC solo winner. He was kind enough to give an interview at the spur of the moment. Thanks Little Joe!

From there we met up with Delta Highway. What a great bunch of guys! I had a lot of fun with them on Saturday and Sunday. I can't wait to share with you what they had to say! And, their show was incredible. I think I told you all before that a harmonica gets me every time!

This is the final tour for Saffire and I had the privilege of speaking with each and every one of them. I knew these fine ladies from the Elkins Blues Camp and it was nice to see them again. Look for the Saffire interviews the first Friday of every month for the next 3 months. So, if you haven't had a chance to see these fine ladies together, you need to mark your calendars and get out there and catch their show! Time is a wastin'! (Andra Faye pictured below)

The next person Maureen and I met up with was Walter Trout, only because we were strategically situated by the Utze pretzel jar. These poor guys were traveling and hungry! We told them for every pretzel they ate, they owed us a picture (lol). Frankly, I was a bit scared of Walter when I first saw him. I saw his pictures on the internet and I was intimidated by those sunglasses and leather vest. So, when I saw Walter, I said, “Walter, I’ve been trying to get an interview with you!” And, Walter informed me that he was an interview kinda guy. I liked Walter immediately! He is very personable and seems to be like a big ol’ Teddy Bear. Right now I have to say that those leather pictures are nothing like his personality. So, I am hoping to do a phone interview with Walter in the future. But, take a look at his website. He is extremely busy! So, everyone, keep your fingers crossed for that one. Pretty much that day, Maureen and I talked to Sammy Avila and Rick Knapp. These two guys are the nicest guys you could come across, ladies! And, can these guys play when you add Michael Leasure to the mix! Excellent show Walter Trout!

Lastly, I spoke to Bobby Rush (pictured left)! Bobby Rush is a caring individual. He had a band mate not feeling the best that day, and he was like a father taking care of his kids. I told Bobby Rush we could talk at a later time. But, Bobby Rush insisted on doing the interview. He is another sweet individual that I met up with on my musical journey! Bobby Rush-I enjoyed your show and where did you get women’s underwear that BIG?! When Bobby Rush was performing, I could look out at the audience and see everyone smiling. Now, that is entertaining!

On Sunday I trekked to WV with my two kids in tow, and they sat in as I spoke to many of the artists.

The first band that I had a chance to speak with was Moreland & Arbuckle (above with moi!). These guys have a rockin’ kind of edge to them and my son truly enjoyed the guitar work. They are very down to earth guys and I bet we will hear much about them in the near future! I just bet.

I didn't have the opportunity to speak with Ruthie Foster or Magic Slim (pictured on the left). But, I will tell you they were both real crowd pleasers!

I had the opportunity of saying hello to Sonny Landreth, and I will be talking to him in the next couple of weeks. I don’t know how many guitars he played for his show. But, I know that I was impressed! Sonny, as well as his crew, are also a nice group of guys. Seems like the blues have a lot of nice guys, huh? Sonny seems to be a quiet person with huge guitar sounds! Thanks for a great show, Mr. Landreth!

The last person I spoke with that day was Kim from the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Kim was kind enough to speak with me after his show at about 11 pm on Sunday night. Kim was very insightful for me in regard to performing the blues. The Thunderbirds gave a high energy show and Sonny Landreth joined them on stage for a song or two. Was that cool or what?

It was hot in WV that weekend. And, I don’t mean only with the weather. What a great blues mini vacation. I can’t wait to share with all of you what the artists had to say. This was a great deal of fun for me. I think I’ll be there next year!

If you liked reading this, you may also like to hear about the Pittsburgh Blues Festival.
You may also like to read some of the interviews from the festival:

Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds
The Women of Saffire: Gaye,

Copyright © 2009 Copyright Monica L. Yasher. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Copyright © 2009 Copyright Jessica A. Yasher.All Rights Reserved.
Photo Copyright © 2009 Copyright Maureen Ceidro. All Rights Reserved.

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American Blues News Staff

What makes American Blues News unique is our coverage across America. Here is our lineup:

Mon: Memphis Correspondent - Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms
Nighthawk is our resident globetrotter and man behind the scenes, as he tours with the Reba Russell Band.

Tues: New York Correspondent - J. Blake
Blake is the American Blues News review and interview guru. You may catch him out and about in NY playing the blues.

Wed: National Correspondent - Monica Yasher
Monica is our executive director and artist interview specialist. You can catch Monica singing the blues around Pittsburgh or working on some country music songs in Nashville.

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Geraldo offers inteviews and reviews. You may have seen him at an Ana Popovic concert or conversed with him on her websites, as he offers administrative support with her music.

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Nelson offers a Friday column of blues photography and pictorial support for the interviews covered by the team.

Jim Stick in Colorado
Jim will be focusing on the Blues Festivals in the beautiful state of Colorado, and the artists that live and visit there.

Maureen Elizabeth, our resident art correspondent, will be focusing on blues art as she explores the creation of CD covers, or speaking with artists who also have a love of creating pictorial art in addition to their music! She may also feature some of her good friends in the Pittsburgh area. In her love of art, you may find Maureen's photography accompanying writer's articles on our pages. Maureen is also our marketing director.

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