Arts & Entertainment

South Orange International Blues Festival Coming to South Mountain Reservation

August 27, 2013 at 10:51 AM


ESSEX COUNTY, NJ - The South Orange International Blues Festival will be held on Sunday, September 8, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the South Mountain Reservation on Cherry Lane.  This free festival will feature a wide variety of artists, including Dave Stryker & Blue to the Bone, Dean Shot, Michael Hill’s Blues Mob, Billy Hector, Lil' Bastad, Bill Sims Jr., and Al Gold.  The "Culinary Rocker" Johnny Ciao will emcee the day.

Local blues musician Mike Griot founded the festival in 2010 and this is his 4th year as executive producer.

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“I had played blues festivals all around the world, and thought ‘Why not have one here at home?,’” Griot said.

The first festival was held on Flood’s Hill in South Orange 2010.  Griot said, “It rained all day, and still, 400-500 people turned out for it.”  He lost a lot of money on that first venture and did not think there would be another.  Soon after, he received a call from Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, who offered to help plan and support the next year’s festival, if Griot agreed to move it to an Essex County Park, which Flood’s Hill is not.  Out of loyalty to South Orange, where Griot had lived for 21 years, the name of the festival has remained The South Orange International Blues Festival, but the venue has moved to the South Mountain Reservation in West Orange.

This year’s show should be another winner.  Griot is looking forward to playing to a hometown crowd once again, as the bass player in Michael Hill’s Blues Mob.  But he is also looking forward to seeing the other bands perform.

“I’m excited to have Billy Hector on the bill,” said Griot.  “He is originally from Orange, as am I.”

Food and drink will be available onsite all day.  The Festival is sponsored by County of Essex, Mental Health Association of Essex, Investors Savings Bank, and PWI Entertainment & Media.  The County Sheriff’s office estimated the attendance last year to be around 2,000 people and this year they are expecting 2,500

“The blues is America’s classical music, and it’s important to me as an American and an African-American, that the art form is preserved and not confused with jazz, which was birthed from the blues.  I am trying to shine a light on blues in its pure form,” Griot said.

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11:00am –12:00pm             BILL SIMS, JR.                                               

12:20pm – 1:20pm              AL GOLD

1:40pm – 2:40pm                LIL’ BASTAD                                                

3:00pm – 4:00pm                DAVE STRYKER & BLUE TO THE BONE                

4:20pm – 5:20pm                DEAN SHOT

5:40pm – 6:40pm                MICHAEL HILL’s BLUES MOB                               

7:00pm – 8:00pm                BILLY HECTOR        

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