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Best of the Blues: Guide to Pittsburgh Blues Festival

By Daniel Cooper

Not to be missed is the Pittsburgh Blues Festival at Hartwood Acres July 22-24th. If you have never been to this annual event, now is the time to go check it out. Not only is Hartwood Acres one of the best parks in the Pittsburgh area, but the Blues festival features music and activities that the entire family can enjoy. Aside from great music, there will be food and a kid zone complete with activities, arts and crafts to keep the little ones busy. Even better, it's all to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Here is your weekend guide to the Blues Festival:

Pittsburgh Blues Festival

Hartwood Acres
2914 Middle Rd,
Allison Park, PA 15101
July 22 – 24th Saturday Pass: $35, Sunday Pass: $22, Weekend Pass: $50

(Credit: KDKA/Pittsburgh Blues Festival)

Friday July 22nd:

Kelly Richey
Kelly Richey plays the first day of the fest. She is a veteran performer based out of Cincinnati, OH. She has been playing the blues for over 30 years and is currently performing solo and with her band. Noted for her outstanding guitar work, Kelly is an accomplished songwriter who has released 11 studio albums. Kelly also founded the Music for Change nonprofit organization which focuses on teaching school kids all about music.

Janiva Magness
Janiva Magness brings her soulful blues to this day full of female performers. Magness won the prestigious BB King Entertainer of the Year award in 2009, only the second woman ever to attain the esteemed honor. Magness has been performing for three decades and is currently touring behind her recent release "The Devil is an Angel Too".

Tedeschi Trucks Band performs Saturday (Credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Saturday, July 23rd:

Tedeschi Trucks Band
Tedeschi Trucks Band is the husband-wife team of Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. Perhaps best known as performers and co-guitarist (Trucks) with the Allman Brothers Band, both have made their own solo music as well. June 7th marked the release of their debut album, Revelator. Although they have collaborated on each other's solo efforts in the past, this is their first true album together, 18 months in the making. As described on their website, this Jacksonville, FL based couples album represents "Delta blues and Memphis soul, Sixties rock and Seventies funk".

Lionel Young Band
The Lionel Young Band is fresh off a 2011 win for the best band in the International Blues Challenge (IBC). A previous solo winner makes Lionel the only two time winner of this competition. Lionel's performance marks a return to Pittsburgh, having previously been a part of the Pittsburgh Opera-Ballet Orchestra. Lionel's unique style of blues is evident on his playing of the electric violin and is showcased on the new record On Our Way to Memphis.

Also performing Saturday are John Nemeth and the 2011 "Girls with Guitars" tour, which features Samantha Fish, Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde.

Johnny Winter will perform on Sunday (Credit: Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Sunday July 24th:

Savoy Brown
Savoy Brown will perform on the final evening of the blues festival. These pioneers of British blues have been performing since 1965 with many lineup changes. The current incarnation is a quartet fronted by Kim Simmonds, who has relinquished lead vocals to Joe Whiting in order to again focus on his guitar playing. After nearly 5 decades and 30 albums, the band continues to bring their blues to old and new fans alike.

Johnny Winter
Johnny Winter has been bringing us his outstanding guitar driven blues for over 40 years. This Texan has received numerous Grammy nominations for his albums, most recently in 2004 for his release "I'm a Bluesman". Johnny maintains a rigorous touring schedule, playing many shows and festivals around the world.

Also performing Sunday is Tommy Castro.

Daniel Cooper has resided in Pittsburgh for over 10 years. He enjoys a wide variety of music and arts. On most weekends he can be found enjoying the public parks of the county.

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