Eight bands, 31 vendors and more than 4,000 blues fans meshed to America’s soul music in Fleetwood Community Park Sunday at the 8th annual Fleetwood Blues Festival.
“Blues is where it’s at,” said Dave Piersig, lead vocal for Scoville Blues. “There is no age limit and there’s no limit at all to Blues. When you come to the stage, you come to listen. It’s whatever works at the moment.”
Liz Kelly, Breinigsville, has been following the blues for years.
“It’s got heart, soul, and you just can’t stop moving, you know, it just gets that body moving and grooving,” said Kelly.
The festival is a non-profit event started by Fleetwood residents Keith and Becky VanEtten, so they could give back to the community while helping people understand the blues.
“I love the blues. I love what Becky and Van do for this community. This music is just tremendous,” said Marilyn Stahl, Oley.
“We raised our kids here and my husband wanted to get people to understand what blues was and we wanted to be able to raise some money and give it back to the community asking them to earmark it specifically for kids and families to provide safe events or fix the park or fix the pool,” said Becky Van Etten. “Everything we make goes back to the Fleetwood Rec Board.”
VanEtten said after expenses, the festival averages a donation of $6,000 to the Fleetwood Recreational Board each year. The VanEtten’s hope that their children and their grandchildren will continue the legacy they started. Their son, Brad VanEtten, is a member of his dad’s band, Blues Factor. Their other son, Chris, daughter, Stephanie Mengel, and Stephanie’s children, Aliyah and Justice, are also involved with the Blues Festival.
The music from all eight bands, Rockman Blues Band, Friar’s Point Band, Scoville Blues, Mr. Z. and The Night Shift, Blues City Blues Band, James Supra Blues Band, Sterling Koch Band, and The Blues Factor, came through without any problems with the sound system. Chris Bauer, sound engineer, said it was pretty intense keeping the music flowing evenly without glitches in the sound because of the large volume of music to absorb the whole time.
“The changeovers are easy, but it’s way more difficult than just doing one or two bands in one night,” said Bauer.
Sandra Kunkle, a Kutztown native who considers herself to be dyed in the wool of Kutztown, said her husband, Allan, is the lead guitarist for Mr. Z and the Nightshift for 17 years.
“Z sang on the original, Sea of Love. Z sang, Do Wop, on the corners in Lake Charles, Louisiana, when he was like 17 and Phil Phillips [American singer and songwriter best known for his 1959 hit, Sea of Love] went to see the move, South Pacific, and came home and said, ‘Would you like to make $10? I just wrote a song, I saw this great movie, and I’m calling it [the song], Sea of Love,’” said Kunkle.
Zora Lloyd, aka Mr. Z, came from Greenville, South Carolina. He grew up around a famous gospel group known as the Dixie Hummingbirds and was influenced to go into music.
“As I grew up, my grandmother used to take me around the south to different churches and my psalm was Jesus Loves Me. That was my favorite song in church,” said Lloyd.
He called it a great curse because that was what his grandmother told him he had to do and he’s been doing it all his life. He said his kids laugh about it.
“I feel honored to be able to help out around here,” said Lloyd.
After 20 years as an ER nurse and six years as a hospice nurse, Liza Beasley, Newtown, said her way of mourning is to dance to the blues and reconnect to life. Beasley is owner of Reiki Yoga Balanced Inc.
“The Blues let’s you let it all out,” said Beasley. “The blues has a special place in my heart.”
Beasley has an aunt she likes to visit in New Orleans and has danced in the streets during Mardi Gras.
It’s just the way that it makes you feel and the emotion that it can stir up in you.
The rhythm just compels you to feel it with your body,” said Emily Ounsworth, Conshohocken.