NESCOPECK - This year, Briggs Farm Blues Festival will celebrate its 15th year, a big accomplishment for the festival that transplants the blues to Nescopeck. The festival will be held July 6 and 7 at Briggs Farm, 88 Old Berwick Highway, with an impressive lineup. Briggs Farm has been a working farm run by family since the 1700s.
The first 3,000 people who arrive at the event will receive a commemorative program.
"We are doing a program that has lineups from the past 15 years," Richard Briggs, festival coordinator said. "It's a collector's item, you can get autographs on it. It also has historical facts from over the years."
PHOTO By BRETTA SIMPSON.
Also continuing a tradition for 15 years, a guitar will be given away on the main stage both Friday and Saturday night. The guitar will be signed by all of this year's performers.
Briggs said he feels the atmosphere is one of the biggest reasons why people return year after year.
"It's a communal thing," he said. "People get a lot out of it. As soon as they pull in the parking lot, they realize it's something big. The first person who greets them is friendly. It's a getaway for the weekend."
Briggs said the atmosphere is laid-back, allowing festival goers the ability to come and go as they please. Camping also is available and Briggs said they have cleared more land to accommodate for more campers.
"It's comfortable," he said. "We try to set that up as a respect to the audience. That's what I look at when I go to other venues - how you feel, how people are treated. That's very important to us as a family business. We are glad that they are supporting us."
The festival will offer new options for campers this year, including solar heated showers.
"They are open air showers, there's no top," Briggs aid. "It's gravity fed. It fits with our style."
There will be some new food offerings as well, adding homemade macaroni and cheese and stewed tomatoes to the menu, including home grown sweet corn, pulled pork, hot dogs, cole slaw and smoked wings. There will be numerous vendors as well.
The festival offers national acts and Briggs said the talent keeps getting better and better. Each year, Briggs said he looks for different talent. This year, the festival headliners will be Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater on Friday and Bernard Allison on Saturday night. Neither act has ever performed at Briggs.
Also new to Briggs is Rory Block, a performer who has been on Brigg's wishlist for some time.
"She is one of the best, if not the best, acoustic blues acts," Briggs said. "I've been trying to get her for many years, and we finally were able to hook up with her."
The festival also will present the Alexis P. Suter Band, and Lonnie Shields, performers who have been fan favorites for years.
Another band that will be at the Briggs Blues Festival will be The Butterfield Blues Band, made up of original members from the original Butterfield Blues Band.
Gabriel Butterfield, son of legendary Paul Butterfield, has handpicked members from the original lineup to celebrate the music of Paul, who passed away 25 years ago.
"Butterfield will be making a documentary, which is a series that will start at Briggs Farm and end up at Woodstock," Briggs said. "Paul Butterfield was a very influential band. They are credited with bringing Chicago style blues. They are one of the reasons why blues is still around today."
Workshops and Q-and-A sessions will be offered at the Back Porch Stage, one of the two stages at Briggs Farm Blues Festival, including a performance by Sam Lay, an original drummer for the Butterfield Blues band and for Bob Dylan on "Highway 61 Revisited." The stage offers an up-close-and-personal experience for concert goers and allows the artists to connect with the audience.
There's no set plan for the workshops.
"It all depends on what the artist wants to do," he said. "It's an atmosphere that you can do that. It's low to the ground and there are seats."
Hay rides and tours of the Briggs Farm will be available during the day. Briggs said the environment is very family friendly.
On July 6, the campgrounds will open at 10:30 a.m. and the concert fields will open at 2 p.m. On July 7, the concert fields will open at 12:30 p.m. Campgrounds close at 2 p.m. on July 8. Tickets for the festival are $23 for one day and $40 for two days in advance. Camping prices in advance are $75. Tickets the day of the festival will be $28 for one day, $50 for two days and $85 for camping. For more information or to order tickets, visit www.briggsfarm.com.