Why do we only get national quality blues entertainment one week per year? ... Could Wheeling sustain a year-round blues club?"
These and other questions, challenged Bruce Wheeler, founder of the Heritage Music BluesFest to create the Summertime Blues series leading up to this year's Heritage Music BluesFest.
"It's taken years to establish the Heritage Music BluesFest as one of the area's widely anticipated summer events. Now the festival alone does not seem like enough to keep everyone happy,"?Wheeler said. "I, as well as blues fans, would like to have more national touring recording artists appear in Wheeling."
Albert Castiglia is set to kick-off the series on Tuesday, July 1 at River City in Wheeling.
Summertime Blues will do just that.
Inspired by the fact that two desired acts were not available for this year's BluesFest, which is set for Aug. 8-10 at Heritage Port, Wheeler thought, "Why not bring them to Wheeling outside of the festival?"
So he did.
"Summertime Blues" will feature five artists in concert at River City Ale Works every Tuesday in July. All of the artists have - or would have - appeared on the MainStage of the Heritage Music BluesFest.
BluesFest giveaways and discounted festival tickets will be available at all of the Summertime Blues events.
The Summertime Blues series includes: Miami, Fla.-bred Albert Castiglia; rising star Samantha Fish; 2004 Contemporary Blues Album winners Trampled Under Foot; blues veterans The Nighthawks; and Caroline Wonderland from Austin, Texas, who is compared to both Janis Joplin and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
The series begins at 8 p.m. Tuesday with a performance by Castiglia touring in support of his first international release, "Solid Ground" on RUF records.
RUF Records founder Thomas Ruf proclaimed, "We are thrilled to have Albert Castiglia join the RUF Records family of artists. Albert is an energetic powerhouse on stage and the funniest guy in the world off stage. We had a ball on the Blues Caravan tour together. Thank you, Samantha Fish and Mike Zito, for turning me on to his amazing talent and personality."
Castiglia is an artist who sings from the gut, shoots guitar licks from the hip and writes songs that articulate ones hopes, fears and heartaches.
Castiglia arrived on the international radar after Buddy Guy's iconic harp blower, Junior Wells, heard the young bluesman sing and invited him into his solo band for several world tours. Though Wells sadly died in 1998, Castiglia stayed busy, joining the great Atlanta vocalist, Sandra Hall, for national tours in the late-'90s, while he held his own in onstage jams with artists ranging from Pinetop Perkins to John Primer. He has been named Best Blues Guitarist by Miami New Times, the respected alternative music magazine, and honored by Roots Music Report with a Top Blues Album of 2011 and 2012.
Castiglia was born in New York and raised in Miami to an Italian father and Cuban mother and combines all influences to create his unique style of modern day blues with a traditional core.
The schedule for the remainder of the series is: Samantha Fish on July 8; Trampled Under Foot on July 15; The Nighthawks on July 22; and Caroline Wonderland on July 29.
All shows will begin at 8 p.m.
Tickets are available online at www.heritagemusicfest.com/summer.