BEST BETS: Music fans to get the blues at Roadhouse Festival

The Nighthawks, with members, from left, Mark Stutso, Johnny Castle, Mark Wenner and Paul Bell, will headline the fifth annual Roadhouse Blues Festival Saturday at Jonathan’s Landing in Magnolia. (Submitted photo)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the potential for heavy rain and thunderstorms, the Roadhouse Blues Fest has been moved inside of the Jonathan’s Landing Golf Clubhouse.

A day of music and more awaits those headed to the fifth annual Roadhouse Blues Festival presented by the Central Delaware Blues Society Saturday at Jonathan’s Landing in Magnolia.

This year the festival is headlined by The Nighthawks from Washington, D.C.

The group, formed in 1972, is these days comprised of Mark Wenner (vocals and harmonica), Paul Bell (lead guitar), Johnny Castle (bass guitar), and Mark Stutso (drums).

The rest of Saturday’s lineup includes Harper and the Midwest Kind, Sean Chambers Band, Skyla Burrell Blues Band, The Jon Hay Band and local group Barrelhouse, winner of last year’s Battle of the Band competition at Jonathan’s Landing.

The Central Delaware Blues Society sent Barrelhouse to compete earlier this year in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

Blues society president Barry Pugh is excited about the roster of talent set to perform Saturday.

“It’s a pretty strong lineup this year,” he said. “We’re hoping The Nighthawks draw a strong crowd from Baltimore and Washington, as well as our local folks.”

The Nighthawks won the Traditional Blues/R&B Duo/Group Award at the 2009 Washington Area Music Awards. In 2011, their album, “Last Train to Bluesville” won the Acoustic Album of the Year at the 32nd Blues Music Awards.

A special highlight of this year’s festival is a free didgeridoo workshop presented by world-renowned didgeridoo expert Peter Harper of Harper and The Midwest Kind.

A didgeridoo is a wind instrument developed by indigenous Australians of northern Australia potentially within the last 1,500 years and is still in widespread use today both in Australia and around the world. It is sometimes described as a natural wooden trumpet or “drone pipe.”

Mr. Harper, an Australian-American, incorporates it — along with the harmonica — into the music he performs with his Detroit-based roots band.

Mr. Pugh isn’t sure how many people will show up with their didgeridoos but he knows one person who will — him.

“I watched Peter Harper play it one night at a show at the Country Store (in St. Georges) and was pretty impressed by it,” he said.

“I don’t know how to play it. It’s pretty hard to play. It has no reed so you really have to use your mouth to get any sound out of it. It’s pretty interesting but a very odd instrument.”

Although Mr. Harper puts on hours-long workshops around the world, Saturday’s demonstration will just be 20 minutes, starting around 3:55 p.m.

“It will just be an introduction to it. We don’t have time in the schedule to do much more than that,
Mr. Pugh said.

Mr. Pugh said he is a big fan of Mr. Harper, who will play with his band at 5:50 p.m.

“If you can only catch one act, catch him. He’s great,” he said.

The music starts at noon with The Jon Hay Band. Just 17, Mr. Hay’s passion for the blues guitar began at age 2 after watching his father’s DVD, “Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble — Live from Austin, Texas”. At age 4 he began studying at Bluebond Guitars in Philadelphia and began performing in student bands at famous Philadelphia venues such as the Trocadero, and the now-closed Legendary Dobbs.

At 14 years old, after a chance meeting with Britain swing band The Jive Aces, he was invited to perform as a featured artist in New York City during their 2014 U.S. tour and has since performed with them numerous times to large audiences in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Florida. In April 2016, he was invited to perform with them at the Derry Jazz Festival in Derry, Ireland.

“He plays all kinds of music from Celtic to jazz to blues. For such a young guy, he’s pretty accomplished,” Mr. Pugh said.

Both Mr. Hay and Zach Lees represented the Central Delaware Blues Society in the youth showcase this year at the International Blues Challenge.

After Barrelhouse plays at 1:20, the Skyla Burrell Band will perform at 2:40.

A frequent performer at society functions, Ms. Burrell, based in Southern Pennsylvania, was born in Los Angeles and raised in Orange County, California. She formed her first band at the age of 13 and has been a working musician ever since.

Sean Chambers Band will then play at 4:15.

“I’m really happy to have him back,” Mr. Pugh said. “We’ve been trying to get him for the festival and finally did.”

Florida-born Mr. Chambers began his career in the blues in 1998 when he toured with Hubert Sumlin as his guitarist and band leader until 2003. During Mr. Chambers’ tenure with Mr. Sumlin, Britain’s own Guitarist magazine named Chambers as “one of the top 50 blues guitarists of the last century.”

In 2009, Chambers went into the studio to record his critically acclaimed album, “Ten Til Midnight”.

In 2017, he released his newest album entitled “Trouble & Whiskey.” It hit No. 11 on the Billboard charts, reached No. 7 on the Living Blues Charts during the first week of its release, and was nominated for a Blues Blast Music Award for Best Blues Rock Album of the Year.

Along with the music, this year’s blues festival will have its own barbecue pit, along with food trucks Caribe Kitchen serving Jamaican cuisine and vegetarian food from Corn Exchange.

Vendors will be on hand as will Blue Earl Brewing providing the suds.

Mr. Pugh hopes to reverse two years of bad luck weatherwise this year.

“Last year it was 95 degrees and the year before that it was 100. And it rained a bit toward the end both years as well,” he said.

This Saturday’s forecast calls for comfortable temperatures with a high of only 75 degrees but thunderstorms possible.

Tickets for the festival, available at the gate, are $30 for CDBS members and $35 for nonmembers.

Jonathan’s Landing is at 1309 Ponderosa Drive in Magnolia.

For more information, visit

Folk Hero preliminary

Another area music group, Delaware Friends of Folk, will present the first of two preliminary events in their 12th annual Delmarva Folk Hero contest Saturday night. The open mic show will be held in conjunction with monthly coffeehouse. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Bennett Chapel at Wesley College in Dover.

Sign-up will start at 7 p.m. and each performer will get 15 to 20 minutes on the Friends of Folk stage. A second open mic show will be held on Aug. 18.

Ballots will be distributed for the audience to vote for their favorite performer and three finalists from each evening will be selected by those present. The finalists will each get a performance slot on Friday night, Sept. 28 at the Delmarva Folk Festival. Again that evening, the audience will vote for their favorite, and the winner will be named the 12th Delmarva Folk Hero.

Prizes include $100 cash, the opening performance spot the next day for the 26th annual Delmarva Folk Festival, an invitation to appear live with Mark Rogers on WSTW’s “Hometown Heroes” show, and more.

Performers should present a genre similar to the ones typically presented by Delaware Friends of Folk — folk (traditional, new, or “singer songwriter”), bluegrass, blues, Americana, Celtic, jazz, New Age, World, old-time, roots, and story-telling, preferably using acoustic instruments. To simplify changeovers, acts should be no more than five performers, with a strong preference toward fewer members in any act. No drum kits and no pre-recorded accompaniment please.

Admission is $5 for members of Delaware Friends of Folk and $7 for non-members. Performers and those 12 and under are admitted free. Fresh-brewed coffee, baked cookies and other snacks will be available.

On Thursday singer/songwriter Eric Paslay comes to the Big Chill Beach Club Summer Concert Series in Bethany Beach. Ticket information at (Submitted photo)

Paslay at Big Chill

On Thursday, country singer/songwriter Eric Paslay takes the waterfront stage at the Big Chill Beach Club at the Delaware Seashore State Park.

Groups including Jake Owen, Love & Theft, and the Eli Young Band have all racked up No.1 singles thanks to Mr. Paslay’s songwriting prowess.

Mr. Paslay’s own hit single “Friday Night” reached the No. 1 spot as well.

Tickets available at Big Chill Beach Club, open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and online at

Concert doors open at 7 p.m. Food and beverages are served until 10.

Parking is available at the Southside Indian River Inlet lot in the Delaware Seashore State Park.

Carnival in Smyrna

The Smyrna-Clayton July 4th Foundation is sponsoring the Shaw and Sons Carnival at Willis GM south of Smyrna through Saturday, opening at 6 p.m.

Customers may ride all night with a bracelet purchased each night. Discount coupons for the bracelets will be available at many local merchants. Customers may also purchase individual tickets at the ticket booth.

Proceeds from the sale of carnival tickets will help raise money for the Fourth of July parade, festivities and fireworks in 2019.

Willis GM is on U.S. 13, one mile south of Smyrna.

The Smyrna-Clayton July 4th Foundation is an independent group organized to provide the community with a day-long celebration of American independence.

Anyone wishing to help the committee may call Joanne Masten at 653-6235 or Bob Merrill at 653-6809.

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters are the sequels “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” and “The Equalizer 2” and “Unfriended: Dark Web” along with the sci-fi/fantasy film “Occupation.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One.”

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