Arts & Entertainment

Blues Concerts to Raise Funds for Summer Festival

IMG_0002With the start of a new series hosted by the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, area blues lovers can enjoy concerts – some offered in the intimate setting of a Falls Church home – leading up to the Tinner Hill Blues Festival this summer.

IMG_0002With the start of a new series hosted by the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, area blues lovers can enjoy concerts – some offered in the intimate setting of a Falls Church home – leading up to the Tinner Hill Blues Festival this summer.

The series, called Prelude to the Blues, began Sunday evening with a performance in the home of Lindy Hockenberry and Ed Christensen. Though the event only had seats for 30, interest was great and the concert ended up entertaining 42 guests.

“It was a full success,” said Nikki Graves Henderson, acting director of the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation. “We sold out, we had a waiting list, and people were laughing and talking and eating delicious homemade lasagna.”

But the food and company weren’t the only thing that made the event a success. Warner Williams, a Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage-recognized musician, played a long set for the audience of blues fans.

“Warner Williams was incredible,” Henderson said. “He played the whole four hours, with the exception of about seven minutes that he gobbled down a plate of food that we forced him to take.”

For Henderson, the in-home concert provided an ideal venue for Williams.IMG_0033

“He just thrives off of the interaction with the crowd,” Henderson said. “He is just a charming, old-school musician, and he is very modest, so you would never know that the Smithsonian had recognized him as a national treasure.”

But those who weren’t able to attend the Williams concert haven’t missed out entirely, as the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation will be hosting concerts across the City, culminating with their June 10-12 blues festival. The next concert will be held April 30 at Creative Cauldron and will feature The Pluckerland Band with Paul Cleague.

“We will transform the space into an old-time honky tonk club,” Henderson said. “The Pluckerland Band with Paul Cleague, they are a very energetic, exciting band, and they will have you dancing, guaranteed.”

The concert series came from a need to raise funds to offset the cost of the June blues festival, as well the desire of local blues patrons to lend their support to the blues festival and the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, which since 1997 has worked toward preserving the civil rights history of Falls Church.

“We have blues supporters who are constantly saying, ‘we’d like to do something for you,’ and Lindy had been saying that she wanted to do something to help raise funds, and so we hit upon the idea,” Henderson said. More volunteers have offered their homes as concert venues, allowing for two more home concerts before the blues festival.

The concerts should whet the appetites of blues-hungry music lovers in the area before the 18th annual Tinner Hill Blues Festival, which will bring a number of popular musicians to the area for the weekend-long festival held at venues across the City.

The majority of the festival action will take place at Cherry Hill Park, with performances from such acts as Deanna Bogart, Gaye Adegbalola, Nadine Rae, Patty Reese, Curtis Blues, and local favorite Tom Principato. Henderson added that the foundation is still negotiating with additional acts for the weekend festival.

Creative Cauldron is also taking part by staging “Tinner Hill: Portraits in Black & White,” which will weave a performance telling the history of Falls Church’s involvement with the early civil rights movement together with blues music.

Bringing the weekend to a close will be a Sunday brunch at Bangkok Blues featuring a blues jam.

This year’s festival will also see some changes. While in past years entertainment has been offered free of charge, Henderson said the festival didn’t receive the amount of sponsorship needed to put on the event without charging a fee. This year patrons will be asked to buy a $10 all-day ticket for performances on the park. For $20, those interested can get a special reserved seat. In another first, beer and wine will now be sold at the event.

“Falls Church is really in a unique position to easily enjoy this blues festival,” Henderson said. “Last year we had people come from Maryland, the Eastern shore, Tennessee, North Carolina, and one person came from Wisconsin, so we expect that the festival will really grow and that the businesses in the area will benefit by these visitors eating and shopping here in the City.”

 

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