Edgar Winter, Savoy Brown head Blues Bash '16

The 2016 Blues Bash has a double blast of excitement in store with The Edgar Winter Band and Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown headlining the Hackettstown area’s premier winter concert showcase March 18 and 19.

The 7th Annual Blues Bash, held at the Sitnik Theater at Centenary College, has earned a solid reputation of delivering great music – and memories - to the area. The Blues Bash has clearly become a tradition with an array of national acts gracing the stage – from David Bromberg last year, to Johnny Winter, Hubert Sumlin, Peter Tork, Cyril Neville and Samantha Fish.

The Edgar Winter Band headlines Friday night March 18 and Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown, celebrating 50 years of music this year, leads the way on Saturday night March 19.Tickets range from $35 and up, with discounts for two-day flex passes. Opening up on Friday is North Carolina's Red Dirt Revalators with their swamp style blues. Friday night's Centenary show also showcases singer-songwriter Jenny Cat.

On Saturday the very special guest openers for Savoy Brown will be Bill Kelly and Andy Goessling! Kelly, a singer-songwriter, poet, and actor who has appeared in numerous high profile TV shows, and who has performed with many touring acts and with his own band, has opened up for a host of major acts over the years, and is formerly from Northwest NJ. He will be joined by the amazingly multi-talented Goessling, best known nationally for his work with Railroad Earth and in New Jersey, with Bill Kelly and the House of Cards and Blue Sparks From Hell. Meanwhile, Zach Russack will be highlighted on Saturday as the event's Lobby Act.

Once again, great regional acts will be included in the overall Centenary line-up, with free pre-shows at Marley’s Gotham Grill in Downtown Hackettstown Friday and Saturday, featuring Dan Fadel and Mike Tichy on Friday, and Don Kincaid with Pierre Marceau, and Bernie Drury, on Saturday. To cap things off, there’s the traditional post show party at Marley’s on Saturday night, this year with the Kim Brewer Band.

Presented by Joe Hirsh Productions in association with the Centenary Stage Company, major supporters of Blues Bash 2016 include PNC Bank, Kope Electric, Mr. Music, Inn at Millrace Pond, Good Impressions Printing & Mailing, Village Family Clinic, Karmabridge Acupuncture, Hackettstown Business Improvement District, Marley’s Gotham Grill, Quincas, Scott Anderson - Morristown Financial Group, Cathy Miller Photography, HTV Media Productions, WNTI.org, CHP Communications, and guest hosts Pete Hoff and Mike Watterston of WNTI.org.    

Edgar Winter, whose late brother Johnny played the Blues Bash three years ago, is best known for his mega-hits “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride”. Winter, however, has found success not just in music, but in film and television.

Winter’s music can be heard in no fewer than fifteen film and television projects, including "The Simpsons”, "Wayne's World”, “Air America"," Wag The Dog", "Encino Man" and "My Cousin Vinny", as well as advertising campaigns such as Miller Highlife, and most recently the "Tupac Resurrection" film, which includes his powerful song "Runnin' (Dying To Live)". The song was part of a soundtrack album that was number one for eight weeks. His live TV appearances include David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel.

You can say that Winter is an inventor, too. He designed the keyboard body strap, an innovation that allows him the freedom to move around the stage during his high-energy multi-instrument performances. He is also a prolific writer, with a volume of poetry and a collection of exciting stories in his writing repertoire.

British Blues/Rock pioneer Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown is now celebrating 50 continuous years, 45 albums, and more than 5,000 gigs from the Royal Albert Hall to Carnegie Hall to the Fillmore East and West and now the Sitnik Theater at Centenary College!

But Kim Simmonds is not living in the past; he’s challenging himself and his band to reach new heights and find higher ground. “Savoy Brown is a very musical band,” Simmonds says.   “We’re not comparing ourselves to others.   We appeal to an audience who wants to hear what we are up to now, what we are rehearsing, creating as a band.   I think my guys and my team is empowering me to do this.”

That’s what Kim lives for and invigorates him - playing for audiences who are hungry to listen for new heights in artistry - not just living off 50 years as an architect of the British hard blues scene.

On September 18, the 45th release by Kim Simmonds, The Devil To Pay hit the stores with quick acclaim, showing what 50 years giving one-hundred and ten percent can do.

The Devil To Pay represents years of wood shedding in Kim’s White Cottage Studio, usually at o’dark thirty in the morning.   Between tours, Simmonds is constantly honing his craft, playing guitar, singing, writing songs, recording.

Simmonds was a lynchpin of perhaps the most exciting scene in history, establishing Savoy Brown in the first wave of British blues-boomers, signing to Decca, opening for Cream’s first London show and being name-dropped in the same breath as peers like Clapton and Hendrix (with whom he jammed).  Soon, Savoy Brown had achieved what most British bands never did – success in America – and became a major Stateside draw thanks to their high-energy material and tireless work ethic.

Other related Blues Bash event information can be found at joehirshproductions.com or "like" the Blues Bash NJ Facebook Page. Tickets at http://www.centenarystageco.org/centenary-blues-bash.php.

'Blazing Hearts' at Vasa Park: Samantha Fish set to rock it with special guests Quimby Mountain Band Feb. 14

There's going to be "Blazing Hearts" at Vasa Park in Mount Olive when Samantha Fish brings her rockin' blues to town for a special performance on Sunday afternoon Feb. 14.

Fish, who has taken the blues scene by storm the past two years, including two sensational shows at the Blues Bash at Centenary College, will spread the love of Valentine's Day in Vasa Park's Indoor Cultural Hall. Doors open at 2:30, with Quimby taking the stage at 3:15 and Fish at 5.

This special show is being presented by Vasa Park and Joe Hirsh Productions and doubles as a kickoff party for the upcoming Blues Bash at Centenary College, March 18 and 19, which features the Edgar Winter Band and Kim Simmonds & Savoy Brown.

Fresh off her newest - and highly acclaimed - CD, Wild Heart (Ruf Records), Fish has been touring the world with the same powerhouse on-stage showmanship that tore up the Sitnik Theater in her two Blues Bash performances there.

Growing up in Kansas City in a musical family, Samantha’s first instrument was the drums before she switched to guitar.  As she listened to her musical heroes, Fish began to explore their own influences by going back in time. “I saw Ronnie Baker Brooks, Tab Benoit and Mike Zito (in Kansas City). That was when I knew something was happening (musically) because I almost had to leave their shows early to go home and play my guitar," she related in a  Deep Roots magazine article. Over the years, she’s cultivated her own sound by blending her influences ranging from Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow, R.L. Burnside and Stevie Ray Vaughan as well as her musical peers.  

Only into her mid-20s she already previously released two CDs, played all over the world and shared the stage with well-established to the legendary artists from Tab Benoit to Johnny Lang to Buddy Guy. Label mate and sometimes touring buddy, Mike Zito has long championed Samantha, for he produced her critically acclaimed albums, Runaway and Black Wind Howlin' (2013).  Samantha’s had a master’s class in a wide variety of the blues. Her work ethic is unquestioned and her love for performance is obvious.

Quimby Mountain Band, is the perfect entree for Fish. The hugely popular Northwest Jersey based band, a blend of rock, bluegrass, jam and funk, continues to turn heads wherever they play, frequently taking their music to major clubs in the Mid-Atlantic and the South regions. This past June they toured with Midnight North, fronted by Phil Lesh's son, Graham, and included stops in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Norfolk and Roanoke, VA., Asbury Park, and New York.

Advanced tickets for the show are $15. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

For further information about the show and advance tickets, visit www.joehirshproductions.com.  For directions to Vasa Park, conveniently located off of Route 46, go to www.vasaparknj.com.

Friday Nights are Comedy Nights at the Millrace Tavern in January

Coach Tom Whiteley
There's going to plenty to laugh about when the Inn at Millrace Pond's Tavern transforms into a Comedy Club Friday nights in January.

Indeed, the action "heats up" in the winter at the historic Inn with top comedians from the Northeast converging on the Town of Hope on Friday nights, Jan. 8 through Jan. 29.

Chipps Cooney
Comedy replaces music in January, as  the Inn holds its own version of a Winter Comedy Festival. For those wishing to stay overnight at the highly regarded B&B, there is a Show & Stay special offer of $109 which includes the show price and room based on double occupancy, and breakfast in the morning.

Kicking off the series on Jan. 8 will be a group of multi-talented comics representing The Best of New Jersey's Rising Stars, headed by Hackettstown-based Chad Peterson.

Nicole Karkolis
Coach Tom Whiteley, who has been seen on ESPN and is in reality a former coach, headlines the Jan. 15 show, followed by the amazing Nicole Karkolis on Jan. 22, and Chipps Cooney, who enjoys movie credits as well as an extensive career at night clubs around the country, on Jan. 29, with terrific openers each night.

The dinner-show format starts with the dinner hour at 7:30. Show time is 9 pm. Cost for the show is $10 per person. Dinner is optional. The Inn offers an array of dining options, freshly made deserts, fine wines, cocktails and numerous craft beers on tap.

The Inn at Millrace Pond is located at 313 Johnsonburg Road (Route 519), in Hope. To make a reservation please call 908-459-4884. For more about the Inn, visit www.innatmillracepond.com or LIKE the Inn's Facebook page.

Former Jeopardy! Champ to host "Trivia on Tap" in the Tavern at Millrace Pond on Jan. 13

So you think you know your trivia? Well, you can test yourself against others when the Inn at Millrace Pond launches its first Trivia on Tap Night on Wed. Jan. 13.

The once a month fun night will take place the second Wednesday of every month in the Tavern, from 7 to 9 pm. Participants can enjoy dinner, deserts, cocktails and/or craft beers while competing for prizes during the evening. Folks can join in any time during the "contest."

Bill Nutt, who was a champion on the TV game show Jeopardy!, will host Trivia on Tap. Expect an array of questions, from the music world, to history, to current events, and more.

Each night there will be two big winners, an individual and a couple or more team. 

Dinner reservations can be made anytime prior to, or during, Trivia Night. Reservations are suggested, not required.

There is no charge to participate. 

The Inn at Millrace Pond is located at 313 Johnsonburg Road (Route 519), in Hope. To make a reservation please call 908-459-4884. For more about the Inn, visit www.innatmillracepond.com or LIKE the Inn's Facebook page.