Blues on the farm

Briggs Farm will host its 16th annual blues festival, held right on the family farm in Nescopeck. It will be held on July 12 and 13 at the farm, 88 Old Berwick Highway, featuring an array of blues singers, some new acts and some old favorites.

After last year’s festival, the Briggs Farm Blues Festival was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

“We were not really expecting it,” said Richard Briggs, the festival’s director. “It was a surprise, and the nice thing about it was when it was announced on stage, the people in the audience were very happy.”

The Briggs family settled on the farm in 1670, with Briggs himself being the ninth generation, his son being the 10th, and his grandsons the 11th, Briggs said.

When asked about the festivals origins, Briggs said it was a distant thought in his mind since he was 16 in 1969, the year of Woodstock.

“I had a 22-year career as a television producer, which brought me into theater and music production, so I had all the elements available to me – plus the farm – and I started thinking I could do it as a business and an artistic adventure. I am not an artist but I do think of myself as one and a producer of events. And I take pride in having a successful all-American business,” Briggs said.

Continuing a tradition, a guitar signed by all musicians performing will be given away on the main stage both nights. A third guitar will be given away to the winner of their YouTube contest from videos posted from last year’s festival, which will be announced July 13.

Camping for the festival is close to the stage and festival goers can either come in large tents or RV’s.

“After the festival ends at midnight, people either go relax in the woods or jam around campfires. Camping is the fastest-growing aspect of the festival. We continually have to expand camping areas. I think people come to the festival and see the type of environment the camping is in and see how nice it is to stay and not have to drive home,” Briggs said.

The menu for this year’s festival also features some new additions as well as old favorites.

Briggs said, “Our new addition to the food this year is Southern Fried Catfish with a special sauce. That adds to the menu of homemade Mississippi Delta-style food that we offer. The pulled pork we smoke and pull on site is a festival favorite, including the macaroni ‘n’ cheese with stewed tomatoes, southern hot wings, and our slow roasted sweet corn.”

There also will be a choice of desserts offered, like strawberry shortcake and pecan pie. The campers also get a Southern style breakfast Sunday and Saturday morning, Briggs said.

Briggs is excited to announce that Cedric Burnside from the Mississippi Delta will perform this year. Burnside is the grandson of R.I. Burnside, and plays hill-country-style blues. Terry “Harmonica” Bean also will return this year.

“Both of them bring a tradition of music that goes back to slavery and is passed down through families, very much like Briggs Farm is passed down through generation to generation,” Briggs said. “That is unique to Blues music.”

Also performing will be artists from Chicago, The Kinsey Report and Lurrie Bell. Briggs said he also is excited to have Shakura S’aida headline Friday night, who is one of the hottest female blues acts in the world right now.

Headlining Saturday night will be Lurrie Bell. Bell’s performance is one of the special event happening this year, Briggs said. Bell is considered one of the greatest blues players in the world and he will be doing a gospel-blues acoustic set in the intimate Back Porch Tent Stage earlier in the day Saturday. Festival attendees will be able to get his autograph, meet him and buy his new album.

The festival has been growing in popularity.

Briggs said, “Not only do people come back every year, but people bring their friends and that is how we really have been growing. From the beginning, we wanted to do something simple, to put on a concert the way a concert should be by respecting both artists and spectators to give artists a comfortable environment to play in. Basically, it is just a great experience, and we really spend a lot of time focusing on details like the Mississippi Delta-style food, bringing in some of the biggest names in the blues world, the quality of sound and staging, and the physical environment like the woods and fields.”

The campground will open at 10:30 a.m. July 12, and the concert fields at 2 p.m. The concert field will open at 12:30 p.m. on July 13. Campground closes at 2 p.m. on July 14.

For more information or to order tickets, contact