Fifteen Years of Blues
Briggs Farm celebrates another year of world class Blues music
The Briggs Family will once again transform their farm into a “field of dreams” for music lovers, festival goers, blues fans, and anyone looking for a fun and exciting weekend. Briggs Farm Concerts celebrates its 15th year of Blues on Friday, July 6 and Saturday, July 7 in Nescopeck Twp. In the last 14 years, Briggs Farm has presented more than 170 national, international and regional blues artists who have helped establish Briggs Fest as a nationally-recognized event.
Since 1998, the festival has attracted larger audiences to the farm, as well as adding bigger acts to the line-up. With two stages (Main and Back Porch) hosting 19 national and international acts, this year’s event looks to continue the tradition of bringing the blues to the people.
“It was an idea that was always in my head since I was a teenager in 1969 and hearing about Woodstock,” organizer Richard Briggs said. “I didn’t go to it because I was right here, working on the farm. I went into film and ended up being a television producer. Through that I was realizing that I had the ability to try to do it, through my production connections. It has been gradually growing ever since.”
Briggs isn’t surprised that the festival is celebrating year 15; that was the plan from its inception. “Right from the start we wanted to make this an annual event,” Briggs said. “We wanted to do something that we could gradually build and have it to pass on. Our plan is to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Briggs gives a lot of credit to the returning music fans and campers who come out year after year with helping spread the word. He said that it’s with that support that the festival has been able to grow.
“The more people who come, the more people who hear about it and tell their friends, the more support we get, the more we’re able to add bands and add higher level bands. All of those things are working together. To have the growth that we’ve been having every year has been great. This year we have the best line-up ever.”
Headlining the Main Stage will be Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater on Friday night and Bernard Allison on Saturday night. Other Main Stage performers include Moreland & Arbuckle, Rory Block, Linsey “Hoochie Man” Alexander, as well as the crowd favorite, The Alexis P. Suter Band, who is returning to the event for the fourth time to take part in the 15 year celebration.
“When I first went to Briggs Farm it was magic right off the bat,” Suter said. “I don’t know if people really realize what they have when they come there. It’s such a magical place, even without the music. I’m looking forward to the people, the energy, the joy, the celebration. I’m looking forward to being a part of this special time. I’ve been waiting all year for this. I’m going to feel the energy from the crowd. I want to be a part of that mixture, that seasoning.”
The year’s festival also features a celebration of the legendary Paul Butterfield and The Butterfield Blues Band. Paul’s son, Gabriel Butterfield, has handpicked original band member Sam Lay and Jimmy Vivino of the Conan O’Brien show to join him on stage to commemorate his father’s career.
The Back Porch stage has been constructed to replicate a real back porch to present the audience with intimate performances from the featured 11 acts. Lonnie Shields will be the Back Porch headliner both Friday and Saturday. Other Back Porch Stage performers include The Sarah Ayers Band, CKS band, Clarence Spady, Rare Form, Ed Randazzo with Bret Alexander and Symphonic Haze.
The festival will also showcase delicious Mississippi Delta-style cuisine, vendors, on-site camping, free parking and hayrides. For the people out there who are attracted to the festival solely for the music, food, and camping, but want to enjoy a more calm and peaceful evening, there is a designated “quiet camping area.” There is also “the woods,” for those who wish to engage in late night festivities such as drum circles and campfires.
On Friday, July 6, the camping area will open at 10:30 a.m. and the concert field will open at 2 p.m. The concert field will open at Saturday, July 7 at 12:30 p.m. and the camping area will close on Sunday, July 8 at 2 p.m.
— tom graham