Arts & Entertainment

F.C. Gears Up for Blues, Beer & BBQ at City Music Festival

A team of dedicated volunteers, local businesses and arts organizations is preparing for the 18th annual Tinner Hill Blues Festival. The festival, running from June 10 – 12, offers blues music from nationally recognized artists as well as local talent, a stage play exploring the lives of local historical figures, movie screenings, workshops, book readings and food from local restaurateurs.

A team of dedicated volunteers, local businesses and arts organizations is preparing for the 18th annual Tinner Hill Blues Festival. The festival, running from June 10 – 12, offers blues music from nationally recognized artists as well as local talent, a stage play exploring the lives of local historical figures, movie screenings, workshops, book readings and food from local restaurateurs.

This year’s line-up includes Tom Principato, Deanna Bogart, Gaye Adegbalola, Nadine Rae, Patty Reese, The Pluckerland Band with Paul Cleague, Delta slide with Curtis Blues, and the Yorktown Youth Band.

Although the festival will celebrate a range of blues music, this year’s festival has a special focus on the contributions made by women to the development of blues music. The festival opens on Friday with a free reception at Stifel & Capra featuring author Carol Boston Weatherford, whose “Becoming Billie Holiday” is a fictional verse memoir combining elements of the novel, biography, oral history, poetry and performance to reflect Billie Holiday’s life and style. On Saturday, at 10 a.m., the Falls Church Community Center will be the site of a free workshop on the history of women in the blues with Adegbalola.

The blues music gets going with a kick-off concert Friday at State Theater with Bob Margolin, Daryl Davis and Guitar Shorty. Tickets are $15 with proceeds going to support the festival.

Throughout the Festival, Creative Cauldron is staging “Tinner Hill: Portraits in Black and White.” Information and tickets are available at creativecauldron.org.
The Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, which organizes the Blues Festival, was founded in 1997 to preserve the city’s heritage and celebrate the contributions made by local residents to the struggle for civil rights. This year’s festival sees the addition of walking tours which organizers promise will be both eye-opening and inspiring.

The main concert will run from noon to 8:15 p.m. on Saturday at Cherry Hill Park. On the main stage will be “Ladies Singing the Blues,” featuring blues divas Deanna Bogart, Nadine Rae, Patty Reese and Gaye Adegbalola, followed by Tom Principato, Curtis Blues, the Pluckerland Band, Jr. Bynum and the Groove Masters. Tickets are $10, but a $20 Headline tickets guarantees a seat and the right to return to it. Festival attendees can buy food on site from Big Daddy’s BBQ, Margaret’s Soul Food and the Second Baptist Fish Fry Café, and thirsty festival goers can make their way to the Mad Fox beer garden not far from the main stage.
All weekend, restaurants across town will feature musical performances, including Dogwood Tavern, La Cote D’or Café and Clare and Don’s Beach Shack.
Local musicians of all ages and levels of experience who want to try out their 12-bar technique are invited to a Sunday Blues Brunch blues jam at Bangkok Blues from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. There is no cover charge, but guests are advised to book early for the brunch.

Nikki Graves, director of the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, says that fundraising to meet the costs of the $35,000 festival this year has been much tougher, but that the foundation was determined to make the festival happen for the City.

“Some donors who used to give thousands could now only donate hundreds,” Graves said. “We have had to include a small charge for tickets to the big concerts to cover those costs, but we could not have made the festival happen without our amazing team of volunteers. They are the backbone of the festival. This wonderful cultural entertainment is a showcase not just for great blues music but for the city of Falls Church. People come to the festival, see how walkable Falls Church is, learn about local history, enjoy great local restaurants, and have a lot of fun.”

A full schedule of events is available at tinnerhill.org/blues.

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