At a casual glance, this was a blues fest worth buying a ticket for and traveling to. It was on the beautiful rolling green grounds of the Pittsburgh Shrine center, indoor and outdoor stages, a good food, craft vendors, auction items, and a fantastic lineup that ran the gamut of blues, from acoustic delta blues to melt-your-face-off guitar-driven blues rock, giving fans a look at and a listen to a large part of the genre's spectrum.
Speaking of spectrum, though, upon a closer look at this blues fest it went beyond good food and good music at a good venue; the Pittsburgh Blues and Roots Festival's proceeds benefitted Band Together Pittsburgh and the Autism Society of Pittsburgh which are infinitely helpful and valuable organizations that exist to enrich the lives of those with autism via music and advocacy, respectively. Various Band Together Pittsburgh performers got to treat the audience to the fruits of their labor on the outdoor stage, singing and playing acoustic and electric guitar, and percussion. Another young man on who is on the autism spectrum, Zayne Hershaw, showed up on the outdoor stage dressed to play and play he did, both on the outdoor stage then on on the main stage with his band, Blue Spectrum, and proceeded to blow the roof off of the place! His guitar is clearly the lever that moves his world and he had the whole crowd moving along with him.
Bill Toms & Hard Rain started the day, though, with their good-time rockin' blues sound, right before Blue Spectrum, then we were treated to the very roots of the blues with Clinton Clegg's Mon Hound and their delightfully gritty delta blues. Vanessa Collier took the stage next and brought blues, funk, soul, sax, and guitar from the stage and into the crowd--both figuratively and literally and very kindly played "Sweatin' Like a Pig, Singin 'Like an Angel" to an appreciative audience that swayed along and sang along with her. Blues guitar extraordinaire, and one of the nicest guys you'll every meet, Anthony Gomes closed the show with a blistering set of his newer material, a cover, and even included an older gem that happens to be a long-time personal favorite, "Testify". You can try to sit still while listening to it, but it will be a challenge!