SUNBURY - For the past eight years, the Spyglass Ridge Winery has hosted its annual Blues Fest. Attracting more than 2,000 people each summer, Blues Fest has become an established favorite among festivalgoers in the area. This year, the winery is doing things a little differently.
For the first and only time, Blues Fest will cross musical boundaries, becoming the Rock 'N' Blues Fest. This year's lineup features a number of rock musicians, which prompted the name change.
"This is the first and last time these five bands have played on the same stage," said Tom Webb, president of the Spyglass Ridge Winery. "So we put our annual Blues Fest on hiatus for 2012 and replaced it with the Rock 'N' Blues Fest."
The Rock 'N' Blues Fest will be held Aug. 11 at the Spyglass Ridge Winery, 105 Carroll Road. Gates open at 4 p.m. and the bands start at 6 p.m.
The festival features a number of national acts, including the Johnny Winter Band, the Edgar Winter Group, Leslie West, Rick Derringer and Kim Simmonds, along with two local acts: Nate Myers & the Aces and the Blind Chitlin Kahunas.
Webb said this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these five acts share the same stage. "This event is a major highlight for me this year since we will have five legends here all at one time," Webb said. "I know, in my lifetime, we will never get this chance again. These five men changed the face of music and they will be right here in our backyard."
What Webb calls his "backyard" is really 14 acres of vineyards. "This is the best concert venue anyone has ever attended," Webb said. "It's a beautiful, natural ampitheater surrounded by vineyards overlooking a pond. The atmosphere is relaxed, friendly and inviting. Every seat in our venue is excellent, even if you're the last person in the gate. Everyone brings their own chair, picks a spot and enjoys a relaxed, intimate setting."
According to Webb, the winery's natural beauty makes it an ideal setting for a music festival. Over the past eight years, Spyglass Ridge Winery has hosted a number of outdoor concerts, including its annual Celtic Festival (which will be held Aug. 18 this year), as well as a number of big-name acts that have performed as part of the winery's "Backyard Concert Series," including Kansas, Blue Oyster Cult, Foreigner, Fog Hat and Styx.
These bands have drawn large audiences to the winery over the past three years. Webb said he hopes for similar attendance figures for this year's Rock 'N' Blues Fest. "We have always had over 1,000 people attend our Blues Fest," Webb said. "You hope for attendance like 3,600 for Foreigner and 3,300 for Styx, but we are always happy with whatever number we get. It's about the music and our customers having the greatest concert experience possible."
Hoping to provide exactly that for festivalgoers, Webb said food and drink also will be on offered during the Rock 'N' Blues Fest. "We have great food, wine-tasting with 21 varieties of wine and beer from local microbreweries."
But the main focus of the Rock 'N' Blues Fest is - as the name suggests - the music. Webb spoke about his love for both genres and his excitement about combining them in this festival and with these artists. "I love blues because it is the roots of the tree of rock," Webb said. "These five artists are responsible for the evolution of one genre changing into the next. Thousands of bands later can be heard copying their styles."
As for die-hard blues-lovers who are worried about the future of the Blues Fest, Webb said the event will be back next year, which makes this year's Rock 'N' Blues Fest a one-off, not to be missed.
"Next year we will revert back to our annual Blues Fest with local and regional blues artists," Webb said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime event that will never happen again in our area."
For more information about the festival or the winery, visit www.spyglassridgewinery.com or call 286-9911.