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Briggs Farm Blues Festival CELEBRATES 15 YEARS

(Standard Speaker)    Alison Briggs didn't want a Woodstock-like concert in her family's backyard, when her husband, Richard, proposed the idea well more than a decade ago. Now, she sees the Briggs Farm Blues Festival as a legacy for her grandchildren - the 11th generation living on the working family farm which dates back to 1760.

Across the road and down the hill from the Briggs' 135-year-old farmhouse, a grassy farm field acts as a natural amphitheater for the legendary performers taking the main stage and introducing a new generation to the blues.

Headlining the 15th anniversary festival July 6 and 7 will be Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater on Friday night and Bernard Allison on Saturday night. Also featured on the main stage will be Moreland & Arbuckle, Rory Block, Linsey "Hoochie Man" Alexander and crowd-favorite, The Alexis P. Suter Band.

Lonnie Shields   ~   Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater   ~   Alexis P. Suter

The Butterfield Blues Band, featuring original member Sam Lay and Jimmy Vivino of the Conan O'Brien Show, will take the main stage early Saturday evening celebrating the late Paul Butterfield, who died 25 years ago.

Paul's son, Gabriel, handpicked performers coming together in this tribute, which is the first in a series of shows beginning at the Briggs farm and ending in the Catskills of New York, where the Butterfield Blues Band took the stage in front of a half-a-million people at another music festival on Max Yasgur's farm in 1969. "Paul Butterfield created the first integrated band of the 1960s and when the first Butterfield album came out, they bridged the gap bringing white audiences to black music greatly changing the course," Gabriel Butterfield said in an email interview. "All the members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band to this day still keep changing history."

He hopes a documentary on his father's life, part of which will be filmed at Briggs, will tell "a story that needs to be told about a musician who played a pinnacle role in music history, including the first electric band that backed Bob Dylan."

...On the Back Porch, the more-intimate, second stage at the festival, performers often chat with the audience, sharing blues-born tales of life on the road.

Lonnie Shields, no stranger to the Briggs festival, will perform on the Back Porch both Friday and Saturday nights as well as cooking up Mississippi Delta-style barbecue the way his family did in his native Arkansas. "The secret is love," Shields said of his family's slow-cooked meat and his own "Lick the Bone" barbecue sauce.

Pulled pork, baby-back ribs, smoked chicken wings, homemade cole slaw and roasted sweet corn are on the menu along with fresh, hot macaroni and cheese - a first this year, Richard Briggs said. But for those with a sweet tooth, desserts such as stacked-high strawberry shortcake and pecan pie will also be included ...

... The festival which attracts more than 4,000 people from around the world and has featured more than 170 regional, national and international blues artists since its inception that almost never materialized.

"In the beginning, he wined and dined me to let me know this was what he was asking," Alison Briggs recalls. "This is our backyard. It took some convincing ... But Richard had a vision." Fifteen years later, that vision has become a family business that the couple is passing onto the next generation of Briggs, their grandchildren. 

... "It is a legacy."

Rules: No pets, no kegs, no glass and no chainsaws (happened ... once, Briggs said.)

For more information or to order tickets, visit