The Bucks County Blues Society is hosting its 35th annual R+B Picnic July 15
By Samantha Bambino
From Firefly to Coachella, there are endless options when it comes to music festivals. But don’t lump the Bucks County Blues Society’s R+B Picnic in with the rest. As the name suggests, it isn’t a “festival,” but rather a large-scale, eight-hour picnic with all the blues music and food you could ask for. Celebrating its 35th year, the picnic will take place on July 15 at Snipes Farm in Morrisville and feature Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, among other renowned blues artists.
The Bucks County Blues Society has been hosting its annual R+B Picnic since 1983. Cofounder Alex Hastie had the vision of presenting blues music to the community in a laid-back, picnic-type setting, something that had rarely been done before. The idea quickly caught on and has been going strong ever since. Though the picnic has been held at various locations over the years, it found a home at Snipes Farm in 2007. According to cofounder Thomas Cullen, Snipes has been the best location yet with its numerous trees and vast space for canopies.
“It’s a bucolic setting,” Cullen said.
At its heart, the picnic is an event for people of all ages to enjoy some good music and food that can easily be found on a red and white checkered blanket. Options include everything from hamburgers and hot dogs to corn on the cob and watermelon, and free ice is provided for attendees who bring their own coolers.
“It’s a picnic where all the cooking is done for you,” Cullen said.
Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, one of the biggest acts in the blues world, will be headlining the picnic with an electrifying and intense yet fun set of deeply rooted Chicago blues, which is sure to get the crowd dancing.
Also slated to perform are Slam Allen, NYC’s “The Soul Working Man;” Albert Castiglia, who is hailing from South Florida and making his BCBS debut; Mikey Junior Band, a Bucks County harmonica ace and Pennsbury High School graduate debuting his new CD; Dikki Du & the Zydeco Krewe, who come directly from the bayous and are back by popular demand after their performance at the 2009 picnic; Joe Zook & Blues Deluxe, Trenton’s finest who first performed their tough urban blues for BCBS in 1979; and Sister Blue & Mark Furman, Philadelphians who specialize in soulful, acoustic blues.
In addition to its 35th R+B Picnic, the Bucks County Blues Society is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The oldest blues society east of the Mississippi River and second oldest in the United States, the BCBS has been active since 1977. When asked if any special acknowledgment will be made at the picnic, Cullen shrugged it off. Though 40 years is a great milestone, BCBS doesn’t want to make a big fuss. All they ask is for people to keep enjoying themselves and coming back for more next year.
“It’s good times and good music,” he said. “People can come in and forget about the world for eight hours.”
The Bucks County Blues Society’s R+B Picnic will take place on Saturday, July 15, at Snipes Farm, located on Route 1 South in Morrisville. Gates open at 9 a.m. and music starts at 10:30 a.m. on the main stage and at noon on the Back Porch Stage. The event is rain or shine. Tickets prior to the event are $40 for each adult (anyone 14 or older) and $20 for children ages 3–13 (free for children under 3). Anyone under the age of 21 must be accompanied by an adult 21 or older. Tickets at the gate will be $45 for adults and $20 for children ages 3–13. Ticket cost includes hamburgers, hot dogs and other picnic fare, bottled water, cans of soda and iced tea. The hospitality tent will serve coffee at 6:30 p.m.
BCBS and Snipes Farm respectfully request the donation of a non-perishable food item (cans or boxes) for a local food bank. BYOB for 21 or older, and only cans and plastic bottles are allowed. Food is served from noon to 5 p.m. Guests are asked to bring their own chairs, tables, blankets, picnic supplies, etc.
Tickets can be purchased by sending a money order or check to BCBS, P.O. Box 482, Levittown, PA 19058–0482 or at the following locations: Positively Records (215–945–8063), Music Forte (215–946–9295), Hong Luck Restaurant (215–943–3566), McGonigal’s Music & Studio (215–257–1006) and Dacey’s Pub (215–295–4838).