A very successful North Jersey Blues Alliance, Blues Muse Benefit and Fundraiser was held in Orange NJ at the Valley Arts Firehouse Gallery on July 17th 2015. After 6 years of hosting the wildly successful Essex County- South Mountain International Blues Festival, Mike Griot, Founder of the North Jersey Blues Alliance has stepped up the game.
Coming off two other extremely popular events, promoting and working the 3rd Annual Valley Arts, June 13, 2015, Hat City Streets Festival, which is an all day long line-up of dance groups, food and vendor booths, exhibitions for kids and adults and Mike working the live music stage. Mike followed this by promoting and organizing the featured event of the inaugural South by South Orange Creative Collisions performance. In this 3 day event, June 26th – 28th, Mike Griot and Friends were the featured performers to a very well attended Saturday night musical extravaganza in the South Orange Performing Arts Center. Mike and Friends put together a performance truly reflective of the organizers goals that fostered the collision of arts, ideas, music, technology and more.
Little less than a month later the North Jersey Blues Alliance led by Mike Griot and members hosted a Blues Muse Benefit and Fundraiser. The mission being to keep the Blues festivals free for all. The North Jersey Blues Alliance team came together and prepared something just a little bit different for their attendees. The objective of the team was to give folks a Blues music experience that made them want to come back for more.
The team created an environment whereby attendees were treated to a very professional Red Carpet Step and Repeat photography session by Patrick Hillarie Photography. The patrons walked the red carpet and went from acting serious to slightly wild and crazy and it was all in good fun.
Inside on all the gallery walls, folks were exposed to a sample of the past 6 years of the South Mountain International Blues Festival in what’s considered emotional images. Considered one of the premier Blues Photographers in the greater New York, New Jersey area, Patrick Hillaire is known for capturing the essence of the moment of the festival performers and attendees.
In addition, there was work displayed by the artist Ron Freeman, whose works are inspired by the music and movement that surrounds him. Ron treated attendees to artwork inspired by the greatness of well-known blues musician Muddy Waters.
Folks were also treated to the works of Tarah Douglas, who is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Penny Stamps School of Fine Arts and Design. Tarah’s focus is on textile design, photography, painting, collages and 3D forms. Tarah a conceptually motivated artist, treated folks to a number of pieces that ask you as an art consumer, to wrestle with the images she presented to broaden your perception and interpretation.
The North Jersey Blues Alliance, Blues Muse event also had reading stimulus for the mind as Debra Devi, guitarist, blues rocker and Huffington post writer was in attendance. This award winning author presented “The Language of the Blues from Alcorub to Zuzu. A winner of the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for Outstanding Book on Music, Debra’s book takes you on a walk thru the history and meaning of the many terms used in the Blues music industry. REUTERS stated it is “One of the wittiest, bawdiest, most fascinating dictionaries ever.” Bonnie Raitt, Blues singer, 10 time Grammy award winner stated “What a great resource, as fascinating as it is informative. Debra Devi’s passion for the blues shines through”
When it came to the palate, Blues Muse patrons were treated to a lighted bar to help with the selection and consumption of wine that was sponsored by Total Wine & More of West Orange NJ. For food, Diana Hart of Diana Hart Fine Catering, fresh off a trip from the Big Easy, treated us all to a gorgeous layout featuring an exciting taste of New Orleans style Gumbo. While the Gumbo was awesome, Diana also suppled a few decadent chocolate treats that exploded with flavor in your mouth and Blues Muse patrons stated it could not be improved upon.
In addition to all the above the fundraiser also contained the BPOP shop where Alice Tracey provided patrons with the ability to donate and have their step and repeat photos printed immediately. In addition, patrons could also have their photos embedded on a tee shirt if they so desired.
Then there was the popup Blues Club which delivered the Blues in an intimate setting that provided great Blues music for all the patrons. With extremely well known international set of blues musicians, Michael Hill on guitar, Mike Griot on base, Al Gold and Will McClelland on drums, the Club was rocked. Folks enjoyed Al Gold who sang some truly sultry blues ballads. And dancing while “not allowed in the establishment” just took off. The Blues Music was phenomenal and was just what people needed on a summery Friday night. No one left sad from listening to Mike Griot and Friends Blues, because on closing folks just happily danced their way out the door.
Judith G. Wharton of the Wharton Music Center in Berkeley Heights recanted “we did not know what to expect, we don’t feel worthy”. A truly memorable night as this sentiment was echoed in many ways by the Blues Muse patrons. Many asked, what’s next? Right now, Mike Griot stated it’s time to get ready for the Free South Mountain International Blues Festival coming September 13, 2015. Located in West Orange, NJ on Cherry Lane across from the South Mountain Recreational Park.
You can discover more at Mike Griot Brings Free South Mountain Int’l Blues Fest to New Jersey
You can learn more bout the festival at South Mountain Blues. We hope to see you there.