briggsfarm.jpg

Briggs Farm Blues opens its 22nd annual festival today with a 50th anniversary Woodstock tribute, aptly called Briggstock.

Only a half hour drive from Danville on the lush grasslands of the family farm in Nescopeck Township, Luzerne County, this year’s festival runs today through Sunday.

In keeping with Briggs Family tradition, the event offers 21 acts featuring international, national and regional bands of various genres, including electric blues, delta-style blues, Americana roots music, soul and a bit of funk sprinkled into the mix. The family oriented festival, just a few miles off Interstate 80, also offers camping, vendors and plenty of good things to chow on.

The Briggstock concert features Bret Alexander & Friends playing the enduring sounds from the iconic Woodstock Festival in upstate New York in 1969.

Alexander, a founding member of the Badlees who regularly plays in Berwick and Bloomsburg, has put together a host of guest musicians familiar to Central Pennsylvania music fans. They include vocalist Ellie Rose, violinist Nyke Van Wyk, AJ Jump on the drums, vocalist Ed Randazzo, guitarists Rob and Tim Husty and keyboardist Cliff Starkey. Count on these road-tested troubadours to honor the Woodstock spirit in an entertaining and respectable way when the concert kicks off at 7 p.m.

“The volume of incredible music coming out of the Woodstock festival is unparalleled in live music history. What we’ve been doing at Briggs Farm over the past 22 years is in many ways an outcome of that festival … The seed was planted in my soul way back,” festival founder Richard Briggs said.

On Friday and Saturday the two-stage festival transitions back into a blues venue. Music patrons will recognize some players from their past performances at Briggs and elsewhere in the region. They include Donna the Buffalo, Vanessa Collier, Clarence Spady, Bobby Kyle and Alexis P. Suter Ministers of Sound.

While the setting is bucolic and peaceful, the entertainment is anything but. Foot-stomping tunes by musicians who know how to get an audience on its feet traditionally journey to the 250-year-old farm, and this year’s cast will not disappoint the 8,000-plus fans expected.

“Good festivals, such as Briggs Farm, are all about the total lineup from start to finish, artists that you not necessarily come to see initially but will blow you away by their performance,” said Michael Cloeren, founder and producer of the Pocono Blues Festival and now venue manager at Penns Peak. “This year is no exception. Don’t miss James Armstrong, Annika Chambers, King Solomon Hicks and Southern Avenue among many others.” 

The Saturday night headliner will be 20-year-old blues prodigy Christone “Kingfish” Ingram. This young man’s guitar skills have caught the attention of greats like Buddy Guy, who has taken him under his wing on the touring circuit. Rolling Stone magazine called Ingram “the latest blues savior.”

The Sunday Gospel Show starts at 11 a.m. with another appearance by the internationally known Slam Allen, who peppers his set with a spicy flavor of blues, soul and rock-and-roll to deliver a stirring performance.

The show closes with Alexis P. Suter’s Ministers of Sound band. To say Suter’s vocals are powerful is an understatement. Her raw, robust style will deliver the message of hope and salvation clearly, forcefully and gracefully.