The 2018 South Mountain International Blues Festival is Coming at You

Sunday, September 9, 2018
South Mountain Reservation in West Orange

By Gregory Burrus | Posted Saturday, August 18, 2018

Have you heard North Jersey's favorite Free Blues Party is coming your way?  A great day at the South Mountain International Blues Festival is being planned by the team so put the date SUNDAY, SEPT 9th in your calendars now. The South Mountain International Blues Festival is an annual event held the second Sunday of September. Nine years ago, Mike Griot, an Essex County based musician and promoter specializing in the blues circuit, founded the South Mountain International Blues Festival to raise awareness of the Blues, which has been described as “the classical music of America.”

And this year is no different as he sticks to the mission and brings you the blues – live and in person.  As Mike has been known to say, we are keeping the blues alive which is why it’s truly one of Northern NJ’s biggest free blues festival! 

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This year, the annual festival will take place from noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 9th at the Cherry Lane/Oakdale Picnic Area at South Mountain Reservation in West Orange, we have something for everyone so take a moment and check out this year’s performers.

The Ben Stein Group 

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Ben Stein appearing for the first time in the South Mountain International Blues Festival.  This young blues / rock lead guitar player resides here in North NJ with a large amount of live experience in the studio and clubs around the Northern New Jersey scene. He’s played music for his entire life and is looking forward to playing some serious blues and rock.

Debra Devi

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Debra Devi - JamBase calls Debra Devi “a supersonic fret-burner with a deep feel for the blues who also writes hauntingly memorable songs.” American Blues Scene, which premiered Devi's "Tired of Waiting" music video, calls her guitar playing "hypnotic, heavy and bluesy," adding "there's a Gov't Mule vibe to her powerful band."

Devi is supporting her new Wild Little Girl EP at clubs and festivals along the East Coast, opening for national acts like Ana Popovic, Devon Allman and Nikki Hall. 

The EP is receiving raves for her classic rock/Americana sound and blazing guitar playing. Urban Politico says, “Devi's music radiates infectious joy, putting us in mind of The Black Crowes, Prince and Little Feet.” Good Times calls her "one of the most remarkable guitarists on the East Coast." 

Devi is also the author of the popular, award-winning blues glossary, The Language of the Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu (foreword by Dr. John), which is blurbed by Bonnie Raitt and Joe Bonamassa. 

Black Lace Blues

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Black Lace Blues is a cross-genre, cross-generation Blues Rock and Reggae band, incorporating original material with contributions from everyone, as well as select quality covers that span a range of musical styles. 

Veterans of many of the New York area jazz, rock and blues venues, the band has performed at numerous music venues such as: The Great Notch Inn, Spirit Pub, Montclair Arts Council Events, Ruthie's Pizza and BBQ, Trumpets Jazz Club, Montclair, NJ,  Montclair Center Stage, Hat City Kitchen, Orange, NJ,  West Paterson, NJ, Montville Music Festival, etc.

 "We don't just play the blues, but we bring the blues to everything we play"- Brian I Feldman. Get ready for some Blues, Rock, Reggae, Funk, R & B and Fusion… Oh Yeah.

Nation Beat

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Nation Beat – Nation Beat singularly conjures up this elemental musical mojo, drawing on the wellsprings of rhythm that lit up jazz and got maracatu thundering. Nation Beat takes off with be-bop-via-Brazil drumming; propelled by percussive bursts of New Orleans-flavored brass. But forget the musical history; this is music to make you dance.

A 21st century mash-up of the thunderous grooves of northeastern Brazil with the strolling swagger of New Orleans funk. Nation Beat’s live shows have taken on an almost mythological aura for their ability to lift the souls, and the feet, of their growing cross-cultural audience. Band leader, drummer/percussionist Scott Kettner has long been at the forefront of merging different musical elements together, from the earliest days of Nation Beat's Brazil meets North American music.

Rockin Johnny Burgin

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Rockin Johnny Burgin is one of the hardest touring and well recognized traditional Chicago blues guitarists and singers today. Since his start in the 90s on Chicago’s West Side with blues singer Taildragger, Johnny has played the Chicago blues festival many times, has headlined festivals all over the US and has become a leading blues attraction throughout the United States and Europe.

Over the years, he has developed from a blues guitar slinger and local blues hero into a fully-fledged singer, harmonica player, a dynamic and engaging bandleader, and a mature, seasoned guitarist.  One look at Johnny’s tour schedule confirms his status as an in-demand blues performer. Johnny currently does close to 250 shows a year worldwide.

King Solomon Hicks

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King Solomon Hicks “is a 22-year-old guitarist/vocalist from the upper west side of New York City aka Harlem, NY. At the age of 13 Solomon started playing with the Cotton Club 17-piece band as Lead Guitarist and continues to perform there. He has been featured in The Washington Post, New York Daily News, The New York Times, Amsterdam News, etc and the PBS TV series American Music.

Trained in jazz guitar with the soul of a burgeoning blues master from Harlem. He was recently in Europe opening for Ringo Starr and Jeff Beck! Solomon has also performed with Tony Bennett, The Destroyers (George Thorogood), Neal Evans (Soulive), Jimmy Vivino (Bandleader for Conan O’Brien), Sam Moore, Marcus King, Stax Songwriter William Bell, John Nemeth, Blind Boy Paxton, Roger Earl (Foghat), Kim Simmonds (Savoy Brown), Davey Knowles, Ne-Yo, Jon Hendricks, Mike Stern and Lee Ritenour.

If you want a glimpse of what Muddy Waters was like at 23, look no further. King Solomon Hicks is one of the most electrifying and exciting young Blues guitarists around!

Are You Ready?  Sept 9, 12 Noon 2018 South Mountain International Blues Festival

As you can see this annual free South Mountain International Blues Festival showcases local and national blues artists from the Tri City Area. From those who are up and coming and making a difference on the Blues scene, all the way to the seasoned professionals who tour internationally around the world. The musicians are truly some of the best performers from around the country and you never know when Bass player Mike Griot, who has played all over the world and has recently just returned from playing a gig in Serbia may just join in the festivities.

This year we are expecting over 3,000 attendees to descend on the hill.

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Folks will be shaking, dancing, picnicking and just having a god time listening to some great blues music.

Here’s a glimpse into the great day on the hill.

2017 Blues Star Regina Bonelli song -  “Don’t Put Your Hands On Me“ - rings loud across the Mountain capture by Gregory Burrus

Please come join in the festivities. The outdoor environment is gorgeous, there is plenty of parking, extremely kid friendly location which we will talk more about I the next article, the vibe is great, and the music is even better! Please visit us and learn more as we head toward Sept 9th.



About the Author

Gregory Burrus, Your Live Music Ambassador and Board Member North Jersey Blues Alliance, which supports the South Mountain International Blues Festival, invites you to stay tuned as there is much more to come. 

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Gregory Burrus is a supporter of local businesses, community events, jazz, blues musicians and local art exhibitions. On a regular basis, Gregory Burrus is promoter and manager of Downtown After Sundown Live Music Concerts for South Orange, NJ.

Gregory promotes events through social media marketing, writing articles, blogging and photojournalism.  Having fun living life while helping others.

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