PITTSBURGH: Recap of the Pittsburgh Blues Festival by Monica L. Yasher

Posted on 8/07/2009 by Monica Yasher

As promised, I wanted to give everyone an account of the Pittsburgh Blues Festival. First and foremost this event was to help the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank. And FREE Friday raised 23,500 pounds of food. They haven’t completed the financials yet. But what a great event for the good of the community. Thank you everyone. And, a special thank you to Ron “Moondog” Esser who is the chair for the entire event. Ron is also the owner of Moondogs, the local blues happening bar here in Pittsburgh.

The staff of the festival is quite impressive in their own right. They truly have their act together. When I arrived, I let the main gate know that I had an interview scheduled with Shannon Curfman (interview coming!). The staff knew who to call to take me to Shannon. I never felt so special as I rode down to the main gate to see Shannon. Unfortunately for Shannon, her trip did not go as planned and they were running a bit late. We decided to wait until after her set to talk to her. So, the staff drove Maureen and I to the VIP tent. It looked like really great food in there. But, our friend Eugene Morgan was playing in the back stage. So, off we ran to see Eugene. He did a great set and really had the crowd going. Thanks Eugene!

From there, Shannon was on stage, so Maureen and I ran down to the main stage to take some pictures of their performance. Maureen and I seemed to do a lot of running around that day! Shannon’s band was tight. And, how couldn’t they be, with brothers like Paul and Wade Thompson handling the percussion? Man, those guys were working it! And, Justin Kesterson, you rock in rain or shine!

As we waited for Shannon to meet and greet the fans, (and Pittsburgh definitely has fans!), I had the pleasure of meeting Joseph Veloz and Shawn Kellerman (interview coming!). Joseph, the poor guy, just wanted a cup of coffee after a long drive. And, there wasn’t any backstage. If I would have known, I would have gone to get him a cup. I owe Joseph a cup of coffee the next time I see him. He tells me that he will hold me to that offer! While we waited for Shannon to finish up with autographs, we met up with Jim Franciscus, Treasurer of the Blues Society of Western Pennsylvania. I always like talking to Jim. He is just one of those great guys who have a love of the blues. We finally had the opportunity to meet up with Shannon and talk about the blues (interview coming!). After the interview, we listened to Shawn’s set. Shawn has a lot of energy in his music and I can’t wait to talk to him about it next month.

I told Jimmy Adler I would stop by his tent and see all the great things he had planned for the kids. And, Jimmy Adler with friends, did a great job at the Blues Music Tent. When I stopped in, there were about a dozen kids enjoying the blues of Bill Weiner. They all had faces painted courtesy of the kids tent. All children had a tambourine and were listening to some really great entertainment by Bill. Thank you Jimmy for your efforts! I hope you had a great time at the after jam, which took place at Moondogs.

We finally ventured back to the VIP tent and had a bite to eat and Curtis Salgado was the next band up. If you want to capture my heart, have a harmonica. Sorry, the blues ain’t the blues without a harmonica to me. Mr. Salgado sounded great as we were at the VIP tent, dining on some really fine blues festival food. Maureen and I grabbed a table outside the tent. Wouldn’t you know it. It began to sprinkle. The Thompson family from Shannon’s band so graciously invited Maureen and I to dine with them. All that I have to say is that blues people are the best people! Thanks for a great evening!

And, Wade and Paul agree that when you come out of the Fort Pitt Tunnels into the ‘burgh, it is quite a cool sight. There’s a city on the other side of that mountain!

Los Lobos finished up the Saturday evening lineup and delivered to the crowd.

I didn’t have the chance to attend Sunday’s show with Deb Callahan, JJ Grey and Mofro, and Robert Cray. Pittsburgh being a steel town with a love of their Steelers, Penguins, and the Blues hosted 15 local and national acts on two stages for the festival at Hartwood Acres in Pittsburgh over three days. I don’t think anyone walked away disappointed. I know Maureen and I didn’t. I would say that a fabulous time was had by all!

You may like to read the interview with Shannon Curfman or the Robert Cray Interview.

Copyright © 2009 Copyright Monica L. Yasher. All Rights Reserved.
Picture of Shannon Curfman used by permission

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.

Thurs: Washington, DC Correspondent - Virginiabluesman
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.

Fri: Northeast Photographer - Nelson Onofre
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.

Pittsburgh correspondent and photographer, CR Bennett, will share the Pittsburgh scene with all of you. You may also see CR's pictures accompanying other writer's articles.

We head to the big state of Texas! Abby Owen, our Texas correspondent.

Another big area to cover, the West Coast with Casey Reagan, Casey will feature many artists and events on this ocean's shores.

Lastly, we have our roving blues entertainment writer,
Chef Jimi.

And of course, we will surprise you sometimes!

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