Monday, May 23, 2011

Silver Spring Blues Festival Brings National Acts, National Attention - Silver Spring Voice

Read about the Silver Spring Blues Festival in the Silver Spring & Takoma Voice - May 2011. See the article at

Exciting plans are underway for the third annual Silver Spring Blues Festival at Downtown Silver Spring. The popular festival will be held on Saturday, June 18, 2011 in two locations in downtown Silver Spring. For the first time, the festival venue will expand to include Silver Spring's Fenton Street Market which operates on Veterans Plaza at the new Civic Building.

This year's Festival will feature a wide range of blues stylings from the acoustic harmonies of Gina DeSimone and the Moaners to the gritty guitars of The Kinsey Report, the Silver Spring festival's first national act. Also performing on the Fountain Stage on Ellsworth Drive will be the School of Rock, Ida Campbell and the Blues Nation, Jonny Grave and the Tombstones, the DC Blues Society Band, and the Big Boy Little Band.

The Festival sponsors include Downtown Silver Spring, Comcast, Lee Development Group, Monument Bank, Home Properties, the DC Blues Society, Fenton Street Market, Atomic Music, Dale Music, the Silver Spring Voice and the Silver Spring Regional Center.

One of the exciting new developments for the Silver Spring Blues Festival is its cooperation with the popular Fenton Street Market, which recently moved from its parking lot location at Fenton Street and Silver Spring Avenue to the Veterans Plaza. Incorporating the blues festival theme, the Fenton Street Market will host several acoustic music performances during its hours of operations, as well as a harmonica workshop and a musical instrument petting zoo.

"We're looking forward to this year's Blues Festival and very excited by our collaboration with the Fenton Street Market," said Alan Bowser, President of the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. "The SSTCi Board of Directors and the organizers of the Fenton Street Market share a vision of creating a sense of place and community at the new Civic Building and Veterans Plaza. We couldn't be more pleased to work with the Market to highlight some great acoustic blues performers and to hold our music workshop and musical petting zoo in that space."

The Silver Spring Blues Festival is a project of the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. (SSTCi), a community-based 501(c)(3) not for profit corporation that was established to bring exciting arts and entertainment programming to the Silver Spring Civic Building and Veterans Plaza. The festival was founded in 2009 by Alan Bowser of the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. and Jazs of the DC Blues Society. The DC Blues Society is SSTCi's principal partner in the Blues Festival. It is an internationally recognized non-profit organization that has been producing blues performances and educational events for over 20 years. Its signature event, the DC Blues Festival, is held annually at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre in northwest Washington DC and attracts thousands of patrons and nationally known musical performers.

SSTCi is the result of a long process of community involvement and engagement to support the development of downtown Silver Spring. It was created to infuse community spirit and involvement in the new Silver Spring Civic Building and Veterans Plaza. SSTCi is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors which includes representatives of local businesses, non-profit organizations, and community advocates. Its current officers, elected in February 2010, are Alan Bowser, Esq., President; Dr. Sheryl Brissett-Chapman, Vice President; Mary Ann Zimmerman, Secretary; and David Fogel, Treasurer. Besides the Blues Festival, SSTCi has produced several benefit concerts in support of Montgomery County's veterans, the Gala Celebration of the opening of the Silver Spring Civic Building and a series of musical performances at the Veterans Plaza.

The Silver Spring Blues Festival attracts thousands of concertgoers from throughout the metropolitan area. The inaugural Silver Spring Blues Festival in 2009 was produced by the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc., in partnership with the DC Blues Society, Montgomery College, PFA Silver Spring LLC, Three Keys Music, the Silver Spring Regional Services Center, the Silver Spring Penguin and the Silver Spring Voice.

The 2009 festival featured international bluesman "Memphis Gold" and his band, which included legendary harmonica player Charlie Sayles and popular vocalist Black Betty. Also performing were Three Chords and the Truth, a youth blues group; Silver Spring guitarist Jonny Grave; the DC Blues Society Band; and the Capital Blues Ensemble. WPFW radio personality Ida Campbell was the festival emcee. Last year's 2010 Festival featured "The Nighthawks" as the headliners, and also included performances by Mary Shaver and the Smokin Polecats, Andy Paxon, Darryl Davis, Jonny Grave, and Choo Choo Charlie.

Youth participation has been integral to the Silver Spring Blues Festival performances and festival activities, and have included youth oriented performances, crafts activities led by Pyramid Atlantic, along with musical petting zoos organized by the DC Blues Society and Dale Music.

The Silver Spring Blues Festival utilizes a broad range of media to publicize this popular annual event. The Festival uses popular social media vehicles such as Facebook, Twitter, and numerous local blogs. In addition, it uses local websites, including those of the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc., Downtown Silver Spring, the DC Blues Society, the Silver Spring Regional Center, Montgomery County Go, and the Silver Spring Voice. There is a festival website located at

"In 2012, we expect to considerably expand the scope of the Silver Spring Blues Festival by increasing the number of Festival days and the number of music venues," said Bowser, SSTCi's President. "Our goal is to expand the Festival to a three-day program with a Friday night performance, the Saturday Festival day, and a Sunday blues brunch in a local Silver Spring restaurant. We will have a Festival-related performances at the Silver Spring Veterans Plaza and, hopefully, at Live Nation's new Fillmore Silver Spring facility on Colesville Road."

"Looking forward, we are interested in utilizing other venues in the Silver Spring Central Business District, including Montgomery College's new Performing Arts Center, and the Jessup Blair Park, located at the intersection of Eastern Avenue and Georgia Avenue," he said. "Currently, we are having discussions with a number of local restaurants to have "blues-themed" performances in the run-up to the Silver Spring Blues Festival. All of this is very, very exciting!

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