When Eric Burdon and the Animals first came to the U.S. as part of the British Invasion of the early1960s, guitar phenom Kenny Wayne Shepherd was still about a dozen years away from his first birthday. But before he signed his first recording contract at 16, Shepherd had cut his teeth on “House of the Rising Sun,” “Don’t Bring Me Down” and other Animals hits.


That traditional passing down of blues lore will continue in July as both Burdon and Shepherd headline the 16th annual Pittsburgh Blues Festival. And for the sixth straight year, the three-day festival, which serves as the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s primary fundraiser, will be held at Hartwood Acres.

The Blues Festival’s traditional Free Friday will also continue and will kick off the weekend of blues, July 23 with some spice from New Orleans as Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band lay down their high-energy zydeco blues and The Iguanas add their touch of Spanish and Island influences.

Admission on Friday is free to anyone donating a bag of non-perishable groceries to the Pittsburgh Food Bank.


Burdon, whose gravel-throated vocals defined the Animals sound, and who later worked with War, headlines the Saturday show. Preceding Burden will be the Cincinnati-based Sonny Moorman Group, a power blues trio with the Texas influence of ZZ Top and Stevie Ray Vaughn, also performing will be Peter Carp & Sue Foley and Nick Curran, formerly of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, who brings his unique blend of punk, blues, country and rockabilly to the mix.

Since he burst on the scene in 1994, Sunday headliner Kenny Wayne Shepherd has received four Grammy nominations, won two Billboard Music Awards, the Blues Foundation’s Keeping The Blues Alive Award, and a Blues Music Award among others, and has had four No.1 blues albums.

But before he takes the stage, perennial Pittsburgh favorite Tinsley Ellis will light up the night with his special brand of guitar pyrotechnics, as will the Larry McCray band. McCray is living his dream. Until 1991, he had it made working in a General Motors plant, but he chucked it to play the blues.

As always, Pittsburgh’s talent will shine as well. Among the local band slated to appear are Norman Nardini and the Pittsburgh All Stars, Mahajibbee, Miss Freddye & Blues Faze, theCAUSE, the Sweaty Betty Blues Band, and Ron Yarosz & the Vehicle.

The festival will again include children’s activities planned all weekend at the festival’s KidZone, sponsored by UPMC Health Plan and Children’s Hospital. Admission for children under 12 is free.

(All-day tickets for Saturday and Sunday are $25. Advance ticket, family fun pack, weekend pass and student discounts available at the festival website http://www.pghblues.com.)

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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