Grammy-nominated artist Victor Wainwright returns to Wheeling this weekend to anchor the Sunday night lineup of Heritage Music BluesFest 2022 at Heritage Port, putting an exclamation mark on a three-day weekend of award-winning blues. (Photo provided)

WHEELING – Music fans from near and far will head to Heritage Port in Wheeling this weekend for the Heritage Music BluesFest 2022.

This year’s festival promises to be a return to form after the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to public gatherings for live music in 2020. And what better than a three-day weekend of celebration? award-winning blues overlooking the Ohio River? Perhaps the lure of perfect weather and blue skies could be the icing on the cake.

“The outlook for the weekend looks very promising,” said Bruce Wheeler, director of entertainment for Roxby Development, noting that the outlook for Friday, Saturday and Sunday – so far – appears to be a pleasantly warm weekend, comfortable and dry in store.

As founder and longtime executive director of Heritage Music BluesFest, Wheeler has been the mastermind behind the stellar lineups that bring a variety of top-notch blues artists to the Heritage Port stage each year. As in the past, the 21st edition of BluesFest this weekend offers a balanced mix of veteran and up-and-coming artists, as well as a variety of returning BluesFest and festival newcomers.

“We’re thrilled to see – for the first time in Wheeling – Popa Chubby, King Solomon Hicks and the Katie Henry Band,” Wheeler said of this year’s Heritage Music BluesFest, presented by Roxby and Yuengling.

Fan favorites like Mike Zito, Brandon Santini, Albert Castiglia, Joe Louis Walker, JP Soars and the Red Hots and many more will also return to the stage. Grammy-nominated band Victor Wainwright and the Train have been a standout at BluesFest in the past, most recently headlining WinterBlues Weekend in Wheeling earlier this year.

“There can hardly be a better place to host this great party, and the band and I are very happy to be playing in front of large crowds in support of live music once again,” Wainwright said on Monday. “BluesFest is a great opportunity to get out and celebrate what brings so many of us together. For those who haven’t heard us yet, I guarantee a fantastic evening, with lots of smiles, dancing and more roots music than you can shake a stick at.

“Music festival season is here.”

Wainwright tipped his hat to Wheeler for his long history and dedication to bringing national touring talent to the small Rust Belt corner of the Ohio Valley in rural Appalachia.

“It speaks to his love and appreciation for roots and blues music, the very vibrant community of music lovers and artists,” Wainwright said. “I played one of my first outdoor festivals at BluesFest, and if Bruce hadn’t believed in me, the last 10 years would have turned out much differently for the band and me. Bruce has an eye and the knack for both introducing hot new artists to the scene, but also bringing in steadfast titans and legends, so any music lover can always appreciate something new, while enjoying the party with their favorites .

Those in the know — in the Ohio Valley and beyond — make it a point to shop around this August weekend for Heritage Music BluesFest every year. Nevertheless, there are still locals who have never made it to the waterfront to find out what the annual festival is all about. According to Wheeler, there is a segment of people who take the term “blues” literally and view blues music as a genre of music that expresses sadness, grief, and grief. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, as BluesFest is much more of an often upbeat celebration of American music that serves as the roots of rock ‘n’ roll and more.

“People who don’t know the blues think it’s depressing music because of the name ‘blues’,” Wheeler said. “But it’s party music meant to help you get over the blues. Think of the Rolling Stones.

Good music and good company are things that longtime fans look forward to seeing again – and the same goes for veteran artists.

“We look forward to another fantastic BluesFest and the opportunity to see many old friends again and meet new ones as well,” Wainwright said. “We’re ready to throw a party with all of you, so boo, yell, and shout!” If you can’t have fun with us, then what the fuck are you doing?

In addition to the lineup of world-class artists on the main stage, a rock-solid lineup of local and regional artists will keep the music on the second stage throughout the weekend. Second stage performances will be provided by the Catch Blues Band, Lil’ Red & the Rooster, Patrick McLaughline, Pierce Dipner and the Sarah Hays Band.

Even after the party ends each night at Heritage Port, the music will continue just up the street at the McLure House Hotel.

“After Jam at the McLure House Bar and Grill after the final main stage act will feature Billy the Kid as the After Jam host,” Wheeler said.

There will be merchandise, food and drink vendors at Heritage Port all weekend.

For tickets or additional information, visit www.heritagemusicfest.com.



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