(WILLIAMSPORT, PA) – The Uptown Music Collective Blues-A-Thon is a two-day fundraising and performance event that uses the Blues as a platform for young musicians to have the opportunity to interact and learn from each other, their teachers, area musicians and a nationally known Blues musician. While also raising money for the nonprofit school through a “relay for life” type of fundraising format.
The event will begin at 6pm on Friday, June 7 on Pine Street as part of Williamsport’s First Friday festivities, then move to the Pine Square Stage until 10pm, finishing off day one with overnight jams inside the Uptown Music Collective. On Saturday, June 8 the festivities will move to the Mid-Town Landing stage (behind the Collective) starting at 11am alongside the StrEAT Food Festival. The event will wrap up at 6pm on the Midtown Landing Stage.
The event is sponsored by the Billtown Blues Association and the Brickyard Restaurant and Ale House and will feature Bluesman and educator Fruteland Jackson, UMC students and staff, as well as local Blues musicians, and friends performing a variety of Blues styles.
The two-day Blues Jam works like a musical version relay for life with participants asking friends and family to sponsor them for a certain number of hours during the event. The Uptown Music Collective’s goal is to raise $5,000 through the event, which will support the school’s free programs including two technology-based programs that teach students how to use modern technology in performance, and how to write, shoot, edit, and upload musical/marketing videos to social media.
The City of Williamsport’s Recreation Department StrEAT Food Festival celebrates the food truck phenomenon sweeping the nation and features the incredible talent of some of the region’s greatest food truck/trailer/cart chefs. The food trucks start serving the public at 12pm on Saturday, but the UMC will be selling a limited number of “early bird” tickets. Early Bird tickets allow you access to the festival an hour earlier (11 a.m.) as well as a $1 off coupon (good at any food vendor, which will also count as a vote for the “fan favorite” trophy), a t-shirt, and a souvenir cup. Proceeds from these ticket sales will go directly to the Collective. Details on these tickets are available on the Collective’s website.
The Blues-A-Thon also serves as a warm up to the following weekend’s Billtown Blues Festival. The Billtown Blues Association will present their 30th Annual Billtown Blues Festival on June 14-16 at the Lycoming County Fairgrounds in Hughesville, Pa. The now three-day event will feature vendors, on-site camping, and a who’s who of local, regional, and national blues talent on stage. The Uptown Music Collective will be kicking off the three-day festival on June 14.
Over the years a key ingredient to the Blues-A-Thon has become the guest artist, sponsored each year by the Billtown Blues Association, to open and close the event. Previous guest performers have included celebrated blues musicians like Kelly Richey (2016), Shawn Holt (2014), Taylor Scott (2013), Dave Keyes (2012), Bob Margolin (2011 & 2017), and Tas Cru (2010, 2015, 2018). “I am blown away and totally inspired by the energy and talent of the young blues people of the future that I have met here [at the Uptown Music Collective],” said 2012 Blues-A-Thon guest artist, Dave Keyes. “This is the future of blues, right here! The Blues-A-Thon is a concept that belongs in every blues society and community throughout the country.
This year the Collective is excited to welcome very special guest, Fruteland Jackson. Jackson will be helping to kick off the event on Pine St on Friday, as well as the closing event on Saturday. Fruteland Jackson is an Electro-Fi recording artist as well as an author, storyteller, and oral historian from Chicago. He is a three-time Blues Music Award Nominee and a recipient of the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive” award. Jackson performs Americana; acoustic blues, folk-traditional and singer-songwriter styles around the world. He created the award-winning *All About the Blues Series- Blues in the School Programs. His program motto is “Try, Trust, and Triumph.” Jackson works to bring more music education into schools. He plays acoustic guitar with a focus on pre-war and post-war blues ranging from Robert Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy to Elizabeth Cotton, plus his personal interpretations. His study includes ragtime, Piedmont, Delta, and other styles. He studies mandolin, lap steel, and the banjo, and has published an instructional book on Delta Blues for Beginners with Alfred Publishing.
In addition to Fruteland Jackson, the event will feature some special guest musicians from the area including The Becky Blue Band, Doug McMinn, The Cadillac Cats, The Collective’s 3rd Street Blues Band, Stacia Abernatha & Noe Socha, The Collective’s River City Blues Band, and The Dirty Mojo Blues Band.
In the weeks leading up to the Blues-A-Thon, Uptown Music Collective teachers have been working to prepare their students and instill in them a healthy respect and appreciation for this essential American music form. “The Blues is so important to the evolution of modern music, it is one of the seminal styles from which so much of what is played today comes from,” said Dave Brumbaugh, Executive Director & Founder of the Uptown Music Collective.
This year’s Blues-A-Thon is sponsored by the Billtown Blues Association and the Brickyard Restaurant and Ale House. Media sponsors include Lamar Advertising, NorthcentralPA.com, Engage Media, as well as WZXR and all of Backyard Broadcasting. The Blues-A-Thon is open to the public until 10pm on Friday night and will be open to the public again starting at 11am on Saturday. Donations in support of the school from the public will be accepted during the event and on the school’s web page via PayPal. For more information on Fruteland Jackson, visit his website. For more information, including the full schedule and locations of Blues-A-Thon events, visit the website. Also, check out Collective’s official Facebook page, as well as other Collective social media outlets for teasers, previews, behind the scenes info and more from the event.