Blues, Brews and BBQ 2019 Allentown, PA
I spent Saturday afternoon in Allentown hanging out at Blues, Brews and BBQ. I’ve been to it years in the past, but this was the first time I spent a significant amount of time there watching various artists perform. My friend Pentley was playing on the stage outside of Queen City BBQ. The Allentown Arts Walk provided a great backdrop for the stage. For the most part, Pentley plays alone, but he was backed by a group of great local musicians which provided a different feel to his set. Here’s a few photos from his performance.
After Pentley’s set was finished I waited for him to pack up and we walked up the street to the Tacos Y Tequila stage. We ended up catching a bit of James Armstrong’s set. His song “The Blues Have Been Good to Me” was great and infectious. Before playing the song, he wanted to let everyone know that you don’t have to lead a hard life to be a blues musician and that was the basis of the song. He had a such a great energy and people were really into the music. You can tell he really loves playing music and performing to people.
After leaving the Tacos Y Tequila Stage we made our way up Hamilton Street towards the LV Building Trades Stage at the PPL Plaza. Along the way there were a bunch of food vendors and other booths selling various items. They had a good variety of food. Being a vegetarian, I didn’t have many options as far as food went so Pentley and I made a direct line to the stage to check out The Craig Thatcher Band. When we showed up to the stage there was already tons of people watching the band.
Pentley was telling me how he’s never seen them but knew who they were and always heard good things. They were really great band and the crowd was really into them. I really liked how they changed lead singers for almost every song. When we arrived, the guy on keys was also singing lead.
We watched them for a few songs then made our way down to the Hamilton Kitchen Stage to check out King Solomon Hicks. We had a few minutes to kill so we just snapped random shots around the festival. It was awesome to see how many different people were there to enjoy everything going on.
We arrived at The Hamilton Kitchen Stage a bit early so we waited around a little for King Solomon to come on. The schedule for the festival was really tight so when you would hear one band stop, it was pretty likely that another would immediately start very close by. King Solomon Hicks came on the stage the minute a neighboring band ended their set and their crowd cheered.
I didn’t realize how young he was. A woman in the crowd, I wanna say she was one of the festival organizers, said that Solomon was only 22. Judging by the way he sang and played his guitar, I would’ve never guessed. I’m glad we got there early, He had a sizable crowd and there were a lot of people dancing. I managed to tip toe around a fair amount of dancers to grab the photos I wanted to get. I just learned today that the drummer in the band was the drummer for Public Enemy. I would’ve never known.
Towards the end of Solomon’s set, we headed back up Hamilton St. to the PPL Plaza Stage to catch Vanessa Collier’s set. When we got to the stage, there were already hundreds of people gathered around and Vanessa was already entrancing the crowd.
Between songs she mentioned that she and her band already played a different blues festival earlier that day. It truly shows how dedicated these musicians are to their craft. I totally respect that. Early into her performance she took her saxophone off the stage and into the crowd and mazed herself as she played intimately to the festival goers.
I spent the majority of her set up next to the barriers close to the stage shooting photos and enjoying the show. It was a beautiful June evening with a nice breeze so a lot her performance looked really epic. I wanted to stay the whole time but I already was running late for a prior engagement so I turned around to leave just as the sun was setting. I was surprised to see even more people there than before. It actually took me a good while to make my way out of the stage area and onto the street.
This was the first year I spent more than an hour at Blues Brews and BBQ and I’m so glad that I did. I got to discover some new amazing music and hang out with some great people. I’m really excited to see what next year will bring.