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Got the summertime blues?

Sharrie Williams will perform at Pocono Blues Festival.

While Maroon 5 takes the stage with their New Wave-inspired hit “Makes Me Wonder” and Warped Tour’s eclectic lineup covers the various genres of rock and roll this weekend at Montage Mountain, Big Boulder will hold a festival to commemorate the genre that started it all: the blues.

On July 26 and 27, the 17th annual Pocono Blues Festival will be held at the ski resort in Blakeslee. Gates open at 10 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday. Times for specific performances can be found on the mountain’s Web site, jfbb.com.

These days, every festival has its own reputation. South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, boasts the largest gathering of independent artists at a single festival. The Sundance Film Festival has become such a household name that it spawned a television channel. So what’s the deal with the Pocono Blues Festival?

The Pocono Blues Festival is the largest blues festival on the East Coast. It boasts a lineup of 20 national recording artists from 30 different states and 10 different countries and typically attracts a crowd of about 12,000 people.

The festival will feature a plethora of types of blues music. Some notable genres are contemporary blues, traditional blues, acoustic and electric blues, Southern soul, R&B, gospel music, and Zydeco, an accordion-based type of blues that originated in New Orleans.

All of it is being held in a natural amphitheater, with two regular stages and one stage placed in a tent for more up-close-and-personal, audience-performer interaction. Founder and producer Michael Cloeren assures there will be very little wait time between performances.

“We will have nonstop music playing from start to finish,” Cloeren stated. “There won’t be any boring sound checking going on while you’re waiting for a performance. That will all be done while there is a performance on another stage.”

As for the performances, the Blues Festival lists a very reputable lineup.

Bobby Rush, who won three Blues Music Awards in 2008, will perform twice on Sunday, once with a big band and again as a solo acoustic performance in the tent.

Sugar Pie DeSanto, cousin of legendary blues artist Etta James, will play Saturday with Jimmy McCracklin, a Blues Hall of Fame inductee.

Terrance Simien, a Grammy award-winning Zydeco artist, will also be performing Saturday.

One of the artists performing twice on Saturday is , an eclectic blues artist who, according to Cloeren, covers many different types of music. She has been on the Blues Radio Charts for six straight months after she recorded her most recent CD in Mount Pocono.

Though the music played at the Pocono Blues Festival will only be blues music, Cloeren noted that one doesn’t have to be a blues fan to really appreciate the music.

“I really urge that whoever comes see everyone,” Cloeren said. “There will be so many different types of artists, from storytellers to great guitarists. You’d be surprised by what you’ll enjoy.”

In a weekend fully booked with concerts at Montage Mountain, Cloeren noted that this is not an event to shrug off.

“If you like hip music,” Cloeren said, “this is the place to be.”



What: Pocono Blues Festival

When: Sat. & Sun., July 26-27

Gates open 10 a.m. Sat.,

11 a.m. Sunday

Where: Big Boulder Ski Area,


Tickets: Various packages


See Web site for details

Info: www.jfbb.com

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