WILLIAMSPORT -- The Uptown Music Collective will present its sixth annual Blues-A-Thon fundraiser June 6-7. The event will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday on Pine Street as part of Williamsport’s First Friday festivities before moving to the Uptown Music Collective at nightfall, and ending 24 hours later at 7 .p.m on Saturday.
The Blues-A-Thon, sponsored in part by the Billtown Blues Association, is a unique fundraiser that has been held annually since 2009, and is intended to raise money to support the Uptown Music Collective, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit school of music. “The idea is similar to relay for life, however instead of walking, participants pledge to play the blues for a certain portion of the 24 hour event,” said Dave Brumbaugh, executive director of the Collective. “For instance, each year I traditionally pledge to perform between 8 to 12 hours of the 24 hours, and then I ask my friends to sponsor me by giving me a certain number of dollars for each hour pledged.” All participants need to find sponsors to support their efforts with all funds raised from the event going directly to support Uptown Music Collective programs and operations with the greatest need.
Through the course of the event, participants explore different styles of blues, from Chicago blues to the rocking blues of Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, with many of the hour or two hour slots acting as workshops on individual playing styles of artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert King, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf along the way. There’s even a blues based free jazz jam during the overnight session. “Around three or four in the morning things get a little crazy as we move into some deep Blues based Jazz and more free form ideas,” said Brumbaugh. The entire event is under the direction and supervision of UMC staff, teachers, guest performers, and area musicians.