The Uptown Music Collective is set to present its fifth annual Blues-A-Thon fundraiser, which will be held Friday and Saturday. The event will begin at 7 p.m. Friday on Pine Street as a 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. Saturday.
The Blues-A-Thon is a fundraising event that started in 2009 and was intended to raise money to support the Uptown Music Collective.
"I had the idea of trying to set a record for the longest continuous blues jam in E," said Dave Brumbaugh, executive director of the Uptown Music Collective. "The Guinness Book of World Records turned down the idea, saying that it was too specialized and the you needed specific training to accomplish it disappointed but undeterred, we turned the idea into a fundraiser instead."
All funds raised from the event go directly to support Uptown Music Collective programs and operations with the greatest need.
The Blues-A-Thon is a marathon blues jam, with 24 hours of continuous music based around a 12-bar blues progression. Through the course of the event, participants explore different styles of blues, from the Chicago blues style to styles as diverse and wide-ranging as Delta blues, blues-based rock, the Texas blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan and even a blues-based, free jazz jam, over the course of the 24 hours. The entire event is under the direction and supervision 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 receive 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 on the internet via UStream 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.
Over the years, a key ingredient in the blues jam has become the guest artist sponsored by the Billtown Blues Association. For the past four years, the local blues society has brought in a special guest to open and close the event and to play alongside student performers throughout the event. Previous guest performers have included celebrated blues musicians Dave Keyes (2012), Bob Margolin (2011) and Tas Cru (2010).
"I am blown away and totally inspired by the energy and talent of the young blues people of the future that I have met here [at the Uptown Music Collective]. This is the future of blues, right here! The BluesAThon is a concept that belongs in every blues society and community throughout the country," said Dave Keyes, the 2012 Blues- A- Thon guest artist.
This year's guest performer will be guitarist Taylor Scott, who also will perform Sunday at the Billtown Blues Festival. Taylor will be open the event on Pine Street at 7 p.m. at the First Friday event and then will close it on the lawn in front of the Collective at 6 p.m. Saturday.
"He will also undoubtedly be playing with students, staff and other guests throughout the event," Brumbaugh said. "In past years, Bob Margolin showed up at midnight and helped out throughout the next day, as did Taz Cru, who showed up early in the morning as well with donuts. All of them showed an amazing willingness to work with our students and to demonstrate their love of the music!"
"This year's Blues-A-Thon is especially exciting. On top of it being our fifth year of doing the event, this year's event falls on the same weekend as the Billtown Blues Festival. The Blues-A-Thon will be a great warm up to the fest, especially with our guest artist Taylor Scott preforming. It's going to be the biggest blues weekend to hit the area in a long time," Collective Marketing Director Jared Mondell said.
Guest performer Taylor Scott is a young roots musician whose heart is clearly overflowing with the passion to make soulful music. Influenced heavily by blues, soul, funk, gospel and jazz, Taylor's singing, playing and writing tells his story. Live performing is something Scott is very comfortable with. He began performing live around age 14, and has worked at it ever since. As the former leader of Taylor Scott and Another Kind of Magick, successful Rocky Mountain region blues band and finalists at the 2012 International Blues Challenge, he has a lot of performing hours under his belt. Playing clubs and major festivals in the Colorado-Wyoming area, as well as places like St. Louis and Memphis has kept him at home with the stage and the crowd.
The 24 hours of the Blues-A-Thon will break down as follows:
7 p.m. - Taylor Scott w/band and guests (Pine Street).
8 p.m. - Performance blues workshop (Pine Street).
9 p.m. - Lady Bird sings the blues.
10 p.m. - Chicago blues.
12 a.m. - Stevie Ray Vaughan blues jam.
2 a.m. - Swing and Uptown blues open jam.
4 a.m. - Bebop blues and beyond.
6 a.m. - Jam band blues.
8 a.m. - '60s and '70s blues rock.
10 a.m. - Blues jam for beginning blues players.
12 p.m. - Adult blues workshop.
2 p.m. - Performance blues workshop.
3 p.m. - Doug McMinn.
5 p.m. - Collective teacher blues jam.
6 p.m. - Taylor Scott.
The Uptown Music Collective is located at 848 W. Fourth St. For more information, call 329-0888 or visit www.uptownmusic.org.