Archive for “April 2012”

What’s Merlefest Got To Do With It?

We were lucky enough to attend Merlefest in Wilksboro, NC this year.  The festival is 25 years old and attracts between 70,000 and 100,000 folks from 48 states + Canada and the world each year.  The local non-profits benefited by over $400,000 from the festival last year and the town estiimates over 10 million dollars was pumped into the regions economy! Festivals have been known to be income generators across the globe. From Minnesota to Mississippi, and everywhere in between, festivals celebrate the history, culture and spirit of the blues.  Meanwhile festivals are known for fueling the economy of the host locale. Worldwide from Dubai to China music festivals range from simple fields to spectacular lighting, special effects and technologically sophicated performance enhancing elements.  Recently, the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival spent over $100,000 creating a Tupac Shakoor hologram, which sent the fans and airwaves wild! The Annual Mississippi Delta Blues & Heritage Festival is looking at its 35th year. The Chicago Blues Festival (1984)  is the largest free blues festival in the world and draws over half a million visitors .  From purists to Americana, Roots, Rock, Jazz and Gospel - all sides of the blues can be covered at a Blues Festival.  

But back to Merlefest - the history of the festival reads like an American success fairytale, small town folks had an idea and a good local cause.  In 1988 the Wilkes Community College Endowment Corporation wanted to build a campus garden at Wilks Community College, a rural North Carolina community college.  The garden would memorialize the memory of a fallen local musician, Eddy Merle Watson, and support his father, Doc Watson, one of the organizers of the festival.  They thought a one day music festival would give them the funds to do it.  Then they just did it.  They called on their friends to help. Over the years they got to the right folks to help and it grew and grew.  Everyone benefits. . . the music lovers, the local businesses, the local non-profits, the community college upon which the festival is held.  Of course, you've got to have great music. . . I thought it telling that their World's Best Acoustic Blues Show included performers we have either already had or plan to have this year or next year.  We are clearly on the right blues musical track! What impressed me most about the festival was how well organized it was, how friendly and polite the volunteers were and how everyone took personal responsiblity for getting you the correct information.  I came away with an overwhelming feeling. . . we here in Falls Church can do this too.  We've got great local history. . . our cause is to preserve that history, to share a proud American success story, to shine as a beacon for justice and equality.  We can do it and the music can make it happen!  All we need is the vision, the passion and the assistance of our local elected officials, city staff, businesses and our community.  They are no different in North Carolina than we are. . . Right? Let's renew our vision for the Tinner Hill Blues Festival!

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What Makes a Good Tinner Hill Blues Performer. . . Among them Michael Roach

I love music. . .and I love history. . . and black culture. . . and don't tell my husband -  but I don't mind good looking men. . . as my Grandmother used to put it "he ain't hard on the eyes!"  And while we're on the subject of men, as a young girl, my Mom gave me a few litmus tests for selecting appropriate males to spend time with.  They included things like: "Within the first 45 minutes of conversation he should share some kind of interesting information you don't already know/give you the name of a book/artist/writer you've never read, or otherwise challenge your mind.  If not - you're wasting your time, in a short time he'll be like a twice read book!"  With that being said, Michael Roach is all of that plus a bag of chips!  This is not a come on to Michael, we're both happily married!  At a recent Prelude to the Blues concert we featured Michael Roach.  Michael, D.C. born and bred, flew in from his home in the U.K. for a limited U. S. engagement.  He graced the stage at ArtSpace Creative Cauldron in Falls Church, VA. for 3 hours (not nearly enough).  He had all the qualities I look for when searching for "edutainment" for performances or putting together events for Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation.  Michael has stage presence, interacts with the audience, plays for the people (not other musicians), teaches about blues history and heritage (hence the term edutainment).  He is witty enough to take the sting out of some of the painful history that is part of the blues legacy.  He is a gifted musician, gracious and approachable. . . he held the audience in the palm of his hand.  We laughed, we jotted down the name of a song, a book, a name to look up later.  We thought "Wow, I didn't know that!"  We fell silent, we listened, we were happy, we were moved, we reflected, we tapped our feet, we clapped, we sang along, we nodded our heads, we ate together, and we felt comrady among our fellow music lovers. . . It was everything we strive for at Tinner Hill!  A community, a community togther without any pretenses.  No barriers. . . just people, equals all. . . and equally respected. 

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Let The Festival Begin—With Beer . . .

April already and the blues festival is right around the corner!  I can hardly contain my excitement over who's performing Friday at the State Theatre or Saturday at Cherry Hill Park or who'll be jamming at the Blues Brunch on Sunday -- or any of the other All Blues, All Weekend happenings All Over Town! This is my first blues blog and I don't know where to begin. OK, let's start with - what will we drink???  We'll Begin with Beer! Mad Fox Brewing Company, Falls Church's very own brewpub, will provide libations (for purchase) at the Tinner Hill Blues Festival on Saturday, June 9, 2012 in Cherry Hill Park (located at 330 Park Ave in Falls Church, VA.) Not only will Mad Fox be on hand to serve ice cold beer, the new Tinner Hill IPA (Indian Pale Ale) will be available.  Just  a couple of weeks ago the award winning brewing company  introduced the new beer and titled it Tinner Hill IPA.  The beer will be sold at the blues festival!  Yes, you heard it right!  The new ale - will be on available for purchase at the blues festival!  Beer, BBQ and Blues, can life get any better than this?  Only if you happen to have a beer named after you! Tinner Hill IPA s a light beer - golden, smooth and rich with a bit of a kick to it.

 But hold it, you don't have to  wait until June 9th to satisfy curiosity or your need to indulge.  Head over to Mad Fox Brewing Company (located at 444 West Broad Street, Suite I, Falls Church, VA 22046.  Phone 703.942.6840) and order a pitcher (or two).  They're open: 11am - 11pm Monday - Wednesday, 11am - Midnight Thursday - Saturday, 10am - 11pm, Sunday, Brunch 10am-3pm.  Visit their website for more information about beer than you ever imagined and see what's cooking on their menu or check.  You know the food is good, when I admit that their shrimp and grits actually hold it's own -- that is a really strong recommendation coming from the creator of "Miss Nellie's Grits and Gravy"! Check out the live musical entertainment schedule  Mad Fox Brewing Company website   BTW be sure to tell Brewer Bill Madden - Nikki sent you!  

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