By Dan Burnett

Annual Briggs Farm Blues Festival to take place in Nescopeck July 6 to 9

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Scranton guitar slinger Clarence Spady will perform a prime time set on the Back Porch July 8.
Weekender file photo
Bret Alexander and Miner Blues will be among the acts representing Northeastern Pennsylvania music at the annual Briggs Farm Blues Festival July 6 to 9 in Nescopeck.
Weekender file photo
Alexis P. Suter and the Ministers of Sound will bring soul and gospel to the festival-goers at Briggs Farm in Nescopeck July 9.
Submitted photo
The 420-acre Briggs Farm in Nescopeck has been hosting a blues festival every year since 1998, and the gathering has grown steadily over the course of the last 20 years.
Submitted photo

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    It’s called Briggs Farm Blues Festival, but loyal fans consider it their blues-stock.

    The setting — Briggs Farm in Nescopeck is actually a working farm — has a Woodstock feel to it. But unlike Max Yasgur’s New York property, there is order at Briggs. And essential services. And free hayrides for the kids and young at heart.

    And best of all, Briggs offers a diverse lineup of professional blues players eager to showcase their talent.

    Since the first festival in 1998, 130 blues acts have graced the stages at the 420-acre farm. This year, 26 international, national and regional acts — ranging from traditional acoustic music to driving electric blues to soulful sounds — will perform over three nights and four days, July 6 to 9.

    The festival, expected to draw more than 7,000 people, kicks off in earnest at 2 p.m. July 7 on the Back Porch, an intimate staging area designed to replicate the porches on sharecroppers’ homes where the genre’s earliest practitioners played. Phyllis Hopkins, of Pittston, who kicked off the festival in 1998, will return with her band to open the festival.

    The early arrivals of the 2,000 people expected to camp at Briggs can attend a concert the evening of July 6 called “A Night of The Allman Brothers Music” performed by members of two regional bands.

    Harp extraordinaire John Nemeth & The Blues Dreamers will headline the main stage on July 7 after three other nationally touring bands perform. He replaces Briggs two-year headliner Devon Allman, who cancelled his summer tour following the death last month of his famous father, Gregg.

    Founder Richard Briggs, who noted Devon Allman has become a fan favorite, said he was saddened to learn of both Gregg’s passing and how it forced Devon to take a break from touring. But he is thankful that Nemeth was able to alter his travel plans to fill in.

    Nemeth is no stranger to Pennsylvania blues fans. He performed at Jim Thorpe’s Mauch Chunk Opera House this spring, and his band was among the featured performers at the Briggs-produced Destination Blues event in Bloomsburg in February, where he received a standing ovation.

    “I can appreciate Devon needing to get away for awhile from the kind of traveling blues musicians have to do regularly to make their gigs. He lost both his father and mother this year and now needs to be with his family,” Briggs said. “But we are very fortunate that John Nemeth’s manager was able to alter travel plans to Montreal for a festival there because most, if not all, major acts have everything booked by this time.”

    Briggs Farm’s reputation has grown, enabling it to draw crowds from all over the country in recent years. Publicity generated by hosting major acts like Grammy-winner David “Honeyboy” Edwards in 2010 enhanced the festival’s reputation, Briggs said.

    Briggs said he was particularly proud that the Memphis-based Blues Foundation (www.blues.org) honored the festival with its “Keeping the Blues Alive” award in February.

    Because of the recognition, now blues fans from as far as Canada and Europe make the trek to Nescopeck, said festival publicist Ginny Buckley.

    Since its humble beginnings — the one-day festival had six bands, a few vendors, one stage and 800 fans that first year — it has grown every year, Briggs said.

    For the first time, the festival will stretch over four days. July 6 is open to those camping there for the full weekend. July 7 and 8 will feature a full slate of blues acts starting in the early afternoon and playing until around midnight. On Sunday, July 9, festival regular Lonnie Shields kicks off the Sunday Gospel Blues lineup at 10 a.m., followed by Alexis P. Suter and the Ministers of Sound. Thornetta Davis of Detroit closes the show. Shields and Davis also perform on the main stage July 8.

    Tickets packages range from $30 to $125. For more information about tickets, directions, camping and vendors, log on to: www.briggsfarm.com.

    For other Life Section stories, click here.

    Scranton guitar slinger Clarence Spady will perform a prime time set on the Back Porch July 8.
    http://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/web1_ABJ-Ice-Spady-1.jpgScranton guitar slinger Clarence Spady will perform a prime time set on the Back Porch July 8. Weekender file photo

    Bret Alexander and Miner Blues will be among the acts representing Northeastern Pennsylvania music at the annual Briggs Farm Blues Festival July 6 to 9 in Nescopeck.
    http://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/web1_BriggsBluesFest_2.jpgBret Alexander and Miner Blues will be among the acts representing Northeastern Pennsylvania music at the annual Briggs Farm Blues Festival July 6 to 9 in Nescopeck. Weekender file photo

    Alexis P. Suter and the Ministers of Sound will bring soul and gospel to the festival-goers at Briggs Farm in Nescopeck July 9.
    http://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/web1_Briggs_Farm_2016-5313.jpgAlexis P. Suter and the Ministers of Sound will bring soul and gospel to the festival-goers at Briggs Farm in Nescopeck July 9. Submitted photo

    The 420-acre Briggs Farm in Nescopeck has been hosting a blues festival every year since 1998, and the gathering has grown steadily over the course of the last 20 years.
    http://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/web1_pond-shot-drone4.jpgThe 420-acre Briggs Farm in Nescopeck has been hosting a blues festival every year since 1998, and the gathering has grown steadily over the course of the last 20 years. Submitted photo
    Nescopeck farm to celebrate blues music

    By Dan Burnett

    FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

    July 6:

    7 to 11 p.m. — “A Night of Allman Brothers Music” performed by The Mighty Susquehanna’s and Third Street. *For campers only

    July 7:

    Back Porch

    2 to 3 p.m. — The Phyllis Hopkins Band

    3:15 to 4:15 p.m. — Miner Blues

    4:20 p.m. — National Anthem

    4:30 to 5:45 p.m. — Jesse Loewy

    6 to 7:15 p.m. — Bobby Kyle & The Administers

    7:30 to 8:45 p.m. — Vanessa Collier

    9 to 10:30 p.m. — Swampcandy

    Main Stage

    4:20 p.m. — National Anthem

    4:30 to 5:45 p.m. — R.L. Boyce with The Cornlickers

    6:15 to 7:45 p.m. — Joanna Connor

    8 to 9:30 p.m. — Slam Allen

    9:45 p.m. — John Nemeth & The Blue Dreamers

    July 8

    Back Porch

    12:15 to 1:15 p.m. — Miss Melanie & The Valley Rats

    1:30 t0 2:30 p.m. — The Mighty Susqehanna’s

    2:45 to 4 p.m. — Dustin Douglas & The Electric Gentlemen

    4:15 to 5:30 p.m. — The Norman Jackson Band

    5:45 to 7 p.m. — R.L. Boyce with The Cornlickers

    7:15 to 8:30 p.m. — Swampcandy

    8:45 to 10:15 p.m. — Clarence Spady

    Main Stage

    4 to 5:30 p.m. — Vanessa Collier

    5:50 to 7:20 p.m. — Lonnie Shields

    7:40 to 9:10 p.m. — Thornetta Davis

    9:30 p.m. — Eric Gales

    July 9

    10 to 11:15 a.m. — Lonnie Shields

    11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. — Alexis P. Suter Ministers of Sound

    1 to 2:30 p.m. — Thornetta Davis

    FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

    July 6:

    7 to 11 p.m. — “A Night of Allman Brothers Music” performed by The Mighty Susquehanna’s and Third Street. *For campers only

    July 7:

    Back Porch

    2 to 3 p.m. — The Phyllis Hopkins Band

    3:15 to 4:15 p.m. — Miner Blues

    4:20 p.m. — National Anthem

    4:30 to 5:45 p.m. — Jesse Loewy

    6 to 7:15 p.m. — Bobby Kyle & The Administers

    7:30 to 8:45 p.m. — Vanessa Collier

    9 to 10:30 p.m. — Swampcandy

    Main Stage

    4:20 p.m. — National Anthem

    4:30 to 5:45 p.m. — R.L. Boyce with The Cornlickers

    6:15 to 7:45 p.m. — Joanna Connor

    8 to 9:30 p.m. — Slam Allen

    9:45 p.m. — John Nemeth & The Blue Dreamers

    July 8

    Back Porch

    12:15 to 1:15 p.m. — Miss Melanie & The Valley Rats

    1:30 t0 2:30 p.m. — The Mighty Susqehanna’s

    2:45 to 4 p.m. — Dustin Douglas & The Electric Gentlemen

    4:15 to 5:30 p.m. — The Norman Jackson Band

    5:45 to 7 p.m. — R.L. Boyce with The Cornlickers

    7:15 to 8:30 p.m. — Swampcandy

    8:45 to 10:15 p.m. — Clarence Spady

    Main Stage

    4 to 5:30 p.m. — Vanessa Collier

    5:50 to 7:20 p.m. — Lonnie Shields

    7:40 to 9:10 p.m. — Thornetta Davis

    9:30 p.m. — Eric Gales

    July 9

    10 to 11:15 a.m. — Lonnie Shields

    11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. — Alexis P. Suter Ministers of Sound

    1 to 2:30 p.m. — Thornetta Davis