Downtown Bloomsburg Inc. (BDI) and the Moose Exchange, both nonprofit organizations heavily rooted in supporting the arts, have paired with local farm owner and event planner Richard Briggs in organizing a two-day music festival that invites music lovers from all over Northeast and Central Pennsylvania to the Bloomsburg area for a winter weekend of Delta blues, microbrews, Southern-style BBQ, and a laidback atmosphere.
Friday, Feb. 7 and Saturday, Feb. 8, some of the biggest names in regional, national, and international blues will gather along with participating hotels, shuttle bus transportation, four local breweries, and The Caldwell Consistory, a landmark gathering place in Bloomsburg for over 65 years, to launch the first-ever Destination Blues Music Festival that sponsors hope will become an annual event.
Beginning Friday, shuttle busses will transport concertgoers from participating hotels throughout Colombia and Montour counties on a pub crawl hosted by Marley’s Brewery & Grille and Turkey Hill Brewing Company in Bloomsburg, Berwick Brewing Company in Berwick and Old Forge Brewing Company in Danville and for a night of brews and blues.
Regional blues artists such as Steve Gilliland, Nate Meyers, Miz Ida and The All-Nightaz, “Ham and Eggs” James Owen and Dan Hess, Ed Randazzo and Brett Alexander, Blind Chitlin Kahunas, and Symphonic Haze will play wildly into the night as each brewery gets a chance to showcase their original microbrews.
Recognized as a longtime blues impresario, Briggs, operator of the Briggs Farm Blues Festival, a widely known event held each summer since 1998 on his family farm in Nescopeck Township, was approached by BDI and the Moose Exchange for assistance in organizing the event and booking talents.
“I thought it was a great idea and a great way to support the arts,” Briggs said of his involvement in the budding music festival. “Not to mention the local breweries that are a great addition to the area.”
Briggs explained that Destination Blues is very similar to his own Briggs Farm Blues Festival but with different elements. A larger outdoor venue allows Briggs to host on-site camping capable of accommodating RVs, trailers, and tents that has grown to become one of the main attractions to his festival. Both festivals share the common purpose, however, of supporting the arts and bringing live music to the public.
“The more live music, the better; that’s how I see it,” Briggs said. “Supporting the arts is the best thing for society and people.”
Saturday, tremendous nationwide talents will grace the beautiful, acoustically perfect stage of The Caldwell Consistory’s vintage-style theater with an aim to blow the doors off. The talented Clarence Spady, Lonnie Shields, John Sweeney Blues Revue, Steve Gilliland, and Black Strat Blues Co. will croon all afternoon into the night while beer, wine, and Southern food remain readily available.
Closing the show is the Alexis P. Suter Band, which has opened for great bluesman B.B. King and most recently for Trombone Shorty at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre. Suter, nominated for Best Soul Blues Female Artist at the 33rd Annual Blues Music Awards, will open for headliner Moreland and Arbuckle.
The wildly popular Moreland and Arbuckle are referred to as a powerhouse blues trio from the heart of Kansas. With a sound that runs a few generations deeper into the heart of the Mississippi River Delta, these Kansas City natives will put a rockin’ wrap on the first-ever Destination Blues Music Festival.
“I just want to let people know that this is going to be something very special, something worth going out for.” Briggs said of the inaugural festival.
“There are so many dynamic and inspirational artists involved that it’s impossible to not be enlightened or that you’ll leave without something to talk about, and all for a great price.”
Destination Blues schedule
Friday, Feb. 7
Marley’s Brewery & Grille (1323 Columbia Blvd., Bloomsburg)
6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.: Steve Gilliland
9 p.m.-11 p.m.: Miz Ida and The All-Nightas
Berwick Brewing Company (328 W. Front St., Berwick)
6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.: “Ham and Eggs” James Owens and Dan Hess
9 p.m.-11 p.m.: Symphonic Haze
Old Forge Brewing Company (298 Mill St., Danville)
9 p.m.-11 p.m.: Nate Myers
Turkey Hill Brewing Company (991 Central Rd., Bloomsburg)
4 p.m.-6 p.m.: Ed Rondazzo & Bret Alexander
10 p.m.-12 p.m.: Blind Chitlin Kahunas
Saturday, Feb. 8
Moose Exchange (203 W. Main St., Bloomsburg)
4:30 p.m.-6 p.m.: Lonnie Shields
6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.: Clarence Spady
8:30 p.m.-10 p.m.: Alexis P. Suter
10:30 p.m.-Midnight: Moreland and Arbuckle
Downstairs (Grille Room)
4 p.m.-5 p.m.: Black Strat Blues Company
5:30 p.m.-7 p.m.: Steve Gilliland
7:30 p.m.-10 p.m.: John Sweeney Blues Revue
For more info, visit facebook.com/columbiamontourbluesfest and visitbloomsburg.com.