Inaugural Reading Blues Fest underway in Berks

Inaugural Reading Blues Fest underway...

READING, Pa. - Berks County is showing its soul as the inaugural Reading Blues Fest gets ready to paint the town blue.

The weekend-long party started at the Peanut Bar on Penn Street, the venue where the Boscov's Berks Jazz Fest begins each year.

"This time, blues, as opposed to jazz," said Peanut Bar owner Michael Leifer. "Close cousins, but it's a fabulous time."

"It's great for the music industry," said music fan Steve McCracken. "We have a lot of local artists that are blues artists as well, and so I think it's a great opportunity."

This weekend, it's all about the blues, from the Peanut Bar to the DoubleTree Hotel up the street. Eighteen live shows are scheduled through Sunday evening, including some big names in blues, including The Robert Cray Band and Jonny Lang. Just like the nationally-known Berks Jazz Fest, Reading Blues Fest is the brainchild of the late Al Boscov. 

"There's been a lot of talk about doing another festival in the fall of the year," said John Ernesto, Reading Blues Fest's general manager.

"Albert Boscov brought it up several times to us," Ernesto continued. "I said, 'Let's do some homework on it.' He said, 'Well, go for it, check it out, let's make it happen.'"

Boscov passed away in February, but his old friend, Craig Poole, general manager of the DoubleTree, said his spirit lives on through music festivals like this. 

"When we were building the hotel, Al Boscov's vision was to have Blues Festival," said Poole. 

As the hotel prepares for the three-day festival, Poole said the hotel has run out of rooms.

"I thought it would start off slower," said Poole. "I had no idea it was going to fill up this quickly and be this successful off the start."

For tickets or additional information, visit​ or call 800-745-3000.

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