Celebrating 20 years of Blues in the Poconos.
That tradition will continue when the inaugural Pennsylvania Blues Festival emanates this weekend from Blue Mountain Ski Area in Palmerton.
The event will kick off Friday evening from 8 p.m. to noon with a performance by Studebaker John & The Hawks from Chicago inside the air-conditioned Adventure Center.
It will continue from 1 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 8:30 p.m. Sunday. Gates open one hour before performance start both days.
The festival will showcase 15 national and international acoustic, electric, contemporary & traditional blues, soul, sacred steel gospel and New Orleans styles of music on two stages in two days, said festival producer Michael Cloeren.
The impressive lineup includes Otis Clay, Shemekia Copeland, Magic Slim and the Teardrops, Kenny Neal, Cyril Neville, Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials, Bettye Lavette, Shakura S' AIDA, John Nemeth, The Lee Boys, Big Daddy Stallings, Samuel James, Linsey Alexander, Steve Guyger & Billy Flynn, and Studebaker John & The Hawks.
"They don't have to be fans of blues music to enjoy this event," Cloeren said. "They just have be open to hip, fun, joyous, happy music."
Before this year, the event - then known as the Pocono Blues Festival - had been held from 1992 to 2010 at Big Boulder Ski Area in Kidder Township.
Cloeren, founder and producer of the festival, said he was informed by Peak Resorts - which operates Jack Frost/Big Boulder - that the company was headed in a different direction.
"Management at JFBB decided in November to stop hosting Summer and Fall Festivals," he said. "I approached Blue Mountain, and they were very receptive to host the event because they are becoming more and more aggressive in summer and fall events to become more of a four season resort."
Cloeren said fans of the festival were heartbroken.
"People were devastated," he said. "This was a family reunion every year, and to not have it was a big void in their musical structure."
Soon thereafter, Cloeren said he met with Jim Dailey, general manager, and Barbara Green, owner/president, of Blue Mountain Ski Area.
"I met the fine people with Blue Mountain, and they jumped on it with open arms," he said. "Jim Dailey was at the Pocono Blues Fest in 2008, he saw the vision, saw the clientele, and saw guests spending their money at a ski resort in the summer time and said 'we definitely want to do this'".
As a result, the festival's legacy will remain intact, albeit at a different location.
"It was important not to let a year lapse, keep the momentum going," he said. "To have it at a ski area, Blue Mountain, is going to remind lots of people of Big Boulder."
With the natural amphitheater at the bottom of its mountain, Cloeren said Blue Mountain is the perfect fit.
"The experience has been great; they've been phenomenal to work with, real excited, and the stage is intense," he said. "Our goal is to have people travel far and wide to support the surrounding communities, and to embrace this beautiful facility at Blue Mountain Ski Area."
Abigail Stasik, special events coordinator, said Blue Mountain will look to uphold the tradition for which the festival made its name.
"Hopefully it goes as well as it did up there," Stasik said. "We're just trying to keep the same tradition, same environment, that they've had for the past 19 years."
For more information, call (610) 826-7700, or visit www.skibluemtn.com .