This weekend's Pittsburgh Blues Festival will shake up the suburbs with blues legends and local performers.
Sunday headliner Kenny Wayne Shepherd is somewhat of a modern icon of blues music. Alongside Jonny Lang, he was a forerunner in the late-'90s trend of teen-age bluesmen; he's been noted for his lovely licks and soulful strumming since he was just 16 years old. Guitar World magazine voted him the No. 3 blues guitarist of all time, just behind the greats B.B. King and Eric Clapton, and he recently had a Fender Stratocaster named after him.
In 2008, Shepherd won a Grammy for "Keeping Blues Alive," which sums up the last 15 years of his career quite nicely. For a guy with such a long run in the music world, he hasn't changed much. His current tour pretty much consists of blues and roots festivals throughout the Midwest and South, and he's playing songs off his last album, 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads, released in 2007.
Most of the Festival's performers aren't as fresh-faced as 32-year-old Shepherd. Other, older acts include Eric Burdon and the Animals, Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, and Sue Foley & Peter Karp. Local performers include The Pittsburgh Blues All-Stars, The Cause and local students from CAPA High School.
The festival will run all weekend with live music, food and family-friendly activities at Hartwood Acres. All proceeds benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
The Pittsburgh Blues Festival. 4 p.m. (gates open) Fri., July 23. Also 1:30 p.m. Sat., July 24, and Sun., July 25. Hartwood Acres, Indiana Township. $40 weekend pass ($25 Saturday and Sunday, Friday free with donated bag of groceries). 412-460-BLUE or www.pghblues.com
- From the backroads: Kenny Wayne Shepherd