Barrelhouse brings blues to R2Hop2 Festival

The Barrelhouse Blues Band, with members, from left, Joe Antonio, Charlie Rickner, Chris Miller and Tommy Noland, will perform at Fordham & Dominion Brewing’s R2Hop2 Beer and Music Festival April 23 in Dover. (Submitted photo/C. Nick Vinson)

The Barrelhouse Blues Band, with members, from left, Joe Antonio, Charlie Rickner, Chris Miller and Tommy Noland, will perform at Fordham & Dominion Brewing’s R2Hop2 Beer and Music Festival April 23 in Dover. (Submitted photo/C. Nick Vinson)

Suds meets songs as Fordham & Dominion Brewing Co. holds its fifth annual R2Hop2 beer and music festival April 23 from noon to 5 p.m. at the brewery on 1284 McD Drive, off Horsepond Road, in Dover.

Along with Maryland indie rock and reggae band Pasadena, Milford rockers Stone Jack Ballers and Philadelphia-area acoustic pop and soul group The Casey Alvarez Band, Delaware’s own Barrelhouse Blues Band will perform from 2 to 3 p.m.

Best Bets logo CLEAR copyFronted by Middletown’s Charlie Rickner, Barrelhouse is known for its high intensity and driving rhythms along with unique covers of songs from blues greats such as Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton and Garry Moore.

“We look for music that’s not being done much on purpose,” Mr. Rickner said.

“If we do play a standard, we’re going to go out and play it differently than what you would typically hear in club to club. I think that’s one of the things that sets us apart from a lot of bands.”

Started in 2007, Barrelhouse includes Mr. Rickner on lead vocals and harmonica, Delaware City’s Joe Antonio on drums, Dover’s Chris Miller on bass, and guitarist and vocalist Tommy Noland of Bear.

Mr. Miller replaced Barrelhouse bass player and founding member Billy Snyder two years ago. Mr. Snyder passed away due to prostate cancer and complications from pneumonia in April 2015.

Since its start almost 10 years ago, Barrelhouse has performed throughout Delaware, Northern Maryland, Southeast Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the Eastern Shore.

They have opened for such national blues acts as Albert Castiglia, John Primer, Victor Wainwright, Morland & Arbuckle and The Nighthawks, and are regulars at Central Delaware Blues Society gigs at Jonathan’s Landing in Magnolia and The Country Store in St. Georges.

Mr. Rickner looks at all of this in a bit of disbelief as they started out as just a couple of guys looking to have a good time.

“It’s been an amazing ride. It’s really a cool thing to be able to get out and do it with these friends of mine who are all accomplished musicians. I came upon it pretty late in life and I’ll be the first to tell you that I feel like a piece of parsley on steak dinner plate,” he said modestly.

“I just make the overall presentation better. I find myself just stepping back and listening to them play when we’re up there sometimes.”

Always a fan of the blues, Mr. Rickard said he walked into a Middletown music shop about 11 years ago and bought a couple of harmonicas.

“To this day I can’t tell you why I did it. But I kept them in my Jeep and would mimic these old blues players like Little Walter or later Paul Butterfield and I just fell deeply in love with the instrument,” he said.

Through their growing popularity Barrelhouse has been able to give back to various causes.

They will be a part of the 10th annual Blues for the Cure to benefit the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life May 1 at Tom Foolery’s, 714 Ash Blvd., Middletown.

Joining them on the bill will be The Billy Pierce Band, The Delcats, Lin Doughton and Joey Fulkerson and the Eric Clapton tribute band Let it Rain.

As far as R2Hop2 is concerned, Mr. Rickner said the band is excited to play the Dover event.

“We’ll hit the ground running and start right at 60 miles an hour,” he said of the hour set.

“We’re looking forward to playing it. Because of where we are in the schedule, we’ll be able to see Pasadena and Casey Alvarez, who are both different than we are, which is great.”

Stone Jack Ballers kick off the day from 11 a.m. to noon as people line up to enter the event, which has a noon start time. Casey Alvarez Band plays from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and Pasadena wraps up things from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

Named for the brewery’s dry hopping machine, R2Hop2 will feature a keg toss, cornhole, a homebrew demonstration and a pinup photo booth.

Children will be treated to an expanded area this year, which will include a rock climbing wall and face painting, among other free activities.

Throughout the day, there will be firkin tappings, wine from Harvest Ridge Winery in Marydel and spirits from Painted Stave Distilling in Smyrna, which will have an interactive booth for its Double TroubleD hopped whiskey, which is produced in conjunction with Fordham & Dominion.

It will feature a three-part tasting. First, the Double D IPA off the tap, then the Double D from out of the barrel the whiskey was made and then the Double TroubleD whiskey itself.

“This is a great way to show folks the flavor and aroma process,” said Joe Gilmore, Fordham & Dominion’s marketing manager.

Food vendors will include Babci’s Potato Pancakes, 5K BBQ, 33 West Ale House & Grill, Tre Sorelle Dolce, PigHeaded BBQ and Big Thunder Food Truck.

R2Hop2 will also feature a vintage firetruck, which will have eight taps flowing the brewery’s Pin Up beers from the side of the vehicle.

“We took a slightly different approach to R2Hop2 this year, choosing to focus on pulling in the small businesses that Kent County has to offer,” said president and CEO of Fordham and Dominion Jim Lutz.

“Our goal with this festival is to bring the community together for one day for some great beer and great music.”

VIP tickets are sold out but regular tickets are $25 in advance ($30 at the door) and include five beers and an R2hop2 specialty glass. They are also available for designated drivers for $20; children younger than 16 are admitted free.

Tickets can be purchased at the brewery or online at

Truckin’ at Harvest Ridge

Over at Harvest Ridge this weekend, the winery is holding its third annual food truck competition to benefit the Dover chapter of the Disabled American Veterans.

Nearly 20 trucks will compete to be named the 2016 champion. Last year’s event attracted over 2,000 visitors.

“Last year we raised $15,000 for the DAV, which allowed them to buy a new vehicle for use in their transportation program in Delaware. This year we hope to surpass that amount,” said Nan Nunan of Harvest Ridge Winery.

The two-day competition runs from 5 to 8 p.m. today and from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday at the winery located at 447 Westville Road, Marydel.

A $10 entry fee earns a commemorative glass, a ticket for wine or cider, and a ticket to vote for your favorite truck.

The competition will also feature live entertainment, raffles and wine tastings.

For more information visit or call the tasting room at (302) 343-9437.

Dance with ‘Annie’

Delaware Dance Alliance presents the premiere of “Annie, the Ballet” this weekend at Dover’s Schwartz Center for the Arts.

“Annie” is an original ballet creation choreographed by Delaware Division of the Arts winner, Michele Xiques and is based on the 1999 version of the production.

It is a one-act show encompassing elements of ballet, jazz, Broadway, a live singer, tango, waltz, and more.

It will be performed at 7 tonight and 3p.m. Saturday.

Tickets can be purchased by stopping by the Schwartz Center box office at 226 S. State St., at or at the door.

They are $10 for senior citizens and children and $15 for adults.

For more information, email

McCutcheon making it up at Schwartz

Next weekend at the Schwartz acclaimed folk singer John McCutcheon makes up for a postponed performance by giving it another go April 22.

This show was previously scheduled for October but was postponed due to inclement weather. For an October interview with Mr. McCutcheon, click here.

As an instrumentalist, Mr. McCutcheon is a master of a dozen different traditional instruments, most notably the hammer dulcimer.

The singer-songwriter has released 37 albums and along the way he has picked up numerous media accolades as well as several Grammy nominations.

He released “Joe Hill’s Last Will” last May, a tribute to the Swedish-American musician/labor activist who was put to death 100 years ago in November.

In addition to theater, festival performances and his annual songwriter’s camp, Mr. McCutcheon has performed the one-man show also titled “Joe Hill’s Last Will,” written for him by his friend Si Kahn in several markets.

He will release a new collection of songs later this year as well as a DVD of the Joe Hill play.

Tickets for the Schwartz show are $16-$32 and can be purchased by visiting, calling 678-5152 or the box office at 226 S. State St., Dover.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is a live-action 3D remake of the Disney film “The Jungle Book” with Bill Murray and Ben Kingsley; the comedy sequel “Barbershop: The Next Cut” and Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones in the action-adventure “Criminal.”

On DVD and download Tuesday is Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”; Maggie Smith in “The Lady in the Van”; and the Marlon Wayans parody film “Fifty Shades of Black.”

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