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Fourth Annual Blues-A-Thon Slated This Friday in Williamsport
By jared mondell
July 29, 2012
The Uptown Music Collective is set to present its fourth annual Blues-A-Thon fundraiser, taking place August 3 and 4. The event will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, August 3 on Pine Street as part of Williamsport’s First Friday festivities before moving to the Uptown Music Collective at nightfall, and ending 24 hours later at 7 p.m. on Saturday, August 4.
The Blues-A-Thon is a fundraising event which was started in 2009, intended to raise money to support the Uptown Music Collective, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit school of music. All funds raised will go directly to support the programs and operations with the greatest need. An important aspect of the Blues-A-Thon is that it provides student participants with the unique opportunity to perform alongside established blues musicians.
Previous guest performers have included celebrated guitarists Bob Margolin (2011) and Tas Cru (2010). This year’s guest performer will be piano player Dave Keyes. Keyes, a prominent member of the New York and mid-Atlantic blues scenes and celebrated pianist, will perform throughout the 24-hour event with UMC faculty and students as well as opening and closing the event.
The Blues-A-Thon is a marathon blues jam, with 24 hours of continuous music based around a 12-bar blues progression. In previous years, participants have explored styles as diverse as Delta blues, Rock blues, and bebop over the course of the 24 hours under the direction of UMC teachers, guest performers, and area musicians.
Participants of the Blues-A-Thon will pledge to perform for a set number of hours and will seek sponsors to support them on a per-hour basis, much like the Relay for Life programs developed by the American Cancer Society. This year, as in the past, the individual bringing in the highest number of sponsorship dollars will received a Blues-A-Thon prize pack.
The event is open to musicians of all ages, styles, and instruments who know how to play a basic 12-bar blues riff. The event is open to the public throughout and will be simultaneously live-streamed to the internet via UStream (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/uptown-music-collective). Donations in support of the school from the general public will be accepted during the event and on the school’s web page via PayPal.
Guest performer Dave Keyes is a keyboardist and bandleader from New York City who has been an important part of the New York music scene for over 20 years, playing with some of the most prominent figures of blues, roots, and folk music. His playing, though rooted in the spiritual sounds of Southern blues, incorporates elements of soul and classic boogie-woogie as well as more contemporary sounds. He recently released his fourth CD, entitled Roots in the Blues. The album features Keyes's songwriting and his award-winning band augmented by the guitar work of Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm) and mighty bluesman Popa Chubby.
This year’s Blues-A-Thon will feature a variety of different segments including a Blues Jam for Beginners, a Chicago Blues jam, and a Stevie Ray Vaughan style jam. Also included will be segments featuring Female singers, different Uptown Music Collective Workshops and Local blues talents such as Doug McMinn and Sean Farley.
Established in April of 2000, the Uptown Music Collective (a 501c 3 nonprofit school of music) has developed a reputation as the premier source of music education in the area, with an enrollment of over 120 students. Offering private lessons at all levels on guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals, as well as classes and workshops in music theory, songwriting, and styles such as the Blues, Jazz, Classical and Rock. The primary age range of the Collective is 10 – 18 yrs old, but is open to all ages and levels. Along with private lessons, the UMC offers a myriad of programs including its flagship Performance Program. This program educates students about the ins and outs of major and minor performances, including direction, production, preparation and technical aspects of the performances. The program brings outstanding student run performances to the area, including most recently Killer Queen, a tribute to the music of iconic rock band Queen staged last April at the Community Arts Center. This performance was the school’s largest to date with over 1500 in attendance over the two nights of the performance.
The Uptown Music Collective curriculum has always stressed the importance and significance of the blues to its students, and has always included a Blues Workshop as part of its class offerings. The educational philosophy of the Uptown Music Collective-- that a balanced music education will create the well-rounded musician-- recognizes that a familiarity with the blues is a central part of the understanding all contemporary music. In the weeks leading up to the Blues-A-Thon, Uptown Music Collective teachers will be 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,” says Dave Brumbaugh, the Collective’s Executive Director. This year’s Blues-A-Thon is sponsored by the Billtown Blues Association. Media sponsor, WZXR and all of Backyard Broadcasting. The Uptown Music Collective is located at 848 W. 4th Street. For more information call (570) 329-0888 or visit www.uptownmusic.org.