Music lovers can bask in the blues and support future musical endeavors in one entertaining event.
The Billtown Blues Association will host their annual fundraiser, “Fall into the Blues,” on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Genetti Hotel Garden/Terrace Room, 200 W. Fourth St., in Williamsport.
Fall into the Blues includes four musical performances plus a silent auction with donations from area businesses and individuals. Proceeds are used to help the BBA and to offer funding for area musicians participating in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to hear some musicians who we’ve heard in different events throughout the year,” said Teri MacBride, secretary of the Billtown Blues Association. “But they are always reimagining and reinventing themselves into new bands so it’s always fresh and fun.”
The four performances at Fall into the Blues are Alligator Soup (4 p.m.), the Staff & Teachers of the Uptown Music Collective (5 p.m.), JP Peterson and Friends (6 p.m.) and the Benjamin Vo Blues Band (7:15 p.m.)
“The musicians that are performing are new band configurations that will be new to the public,” said Bonnie Tallman, executive director of the BBA. “Alligator Soup focuses on New Orleans music. It’s pretty unlikely that anyone has heard them before.”
Founded by Shawn Strickland, who provides percussion, harmonica and vocals, Alligator Soup consists of Doug McMinn on guitar and horns, Al Meck on guitar, Levi Stover on bass and JT “Blues” Thompson.
Many people are familiar with the caliber of music produced by students of the Uptown Music Collective, but not necessarily with the teachers, Tallman said. Among those expected to perform are Dave Brumbaugh, Jared Mondell, Brendan Mondell, Willi Ort, Bre Eisenhardt, Stacia Abernatha, Ben Geise and Kim Adair.
“We’re pulling them out from behind their desks and giving them a chance to shine onstage,” Tallman said.”
Recently retired JP Peterson, handling guitar and vocals, has assembled a small group consisting of Greg Burgess on piano, Bill Stetz on bass and Tommy James on drums.
“JP Peterson pulled together three friends just assembled for this event,” Tallman said. “And Benjamin Vo is the band who is going down to Memphis.”
Vo, from Litiz, and his blues band won the BBA’s 2019 audition for the prestigious International Blues Challenge in Memphis, which will be held in January and gives an opportunity for musicians to spend a week on Beale Street and network with other blues musicians and industry personnel.
“That’s a huge event. There will be over 200 bands there,” Tallman said. “If you make it to the finals, it’s career-changing for you.”
Fall into the Blues raises money for the BBA. The silent auction helps support the musicians, like the Benjamin Vo Blues Band and Mini Mojo, consisting of Shawn Strickland and Colin Beatty, who will compete in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
Dozens of items will be available at the silent auction, including a $300 guitar, an overnight stay at the Genetti Hotel, multiple restaurant and event tickets, handcrafted glass jewelry, handmade lap quilts and vintage vinyl albums by Bonnie Raitt, Led Zeppelin II, The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen.
“For people who like to keep up with new and unique acts in the area, Fall into the Blues will be really entertaining,” Tallman said.
“There’s a lot of talent here,” MacBride said. “It’s also a good time to hear new, upcoming talents that I’ve never heard before.”