Robert Randolph, Charlie Musselwhite, Coco Montoya & More Headline Festival, presented by Highmark Blue Shield, set for March 11-13

Robert Randolph & the Family Band, GRAMMY winner Charlie Musselwhite, Johnny Winter’s All Star Band, Coco Montoya and the Royal Southern Brotherhood headline the fifth Blast Furnace Blues Festival presented by Highmark Blue Shield March 11-13, 2016 at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.  Three-day festival passes and single-day tickets for the event, which features 18 national and local blues artists, are on sale at and 610-332-3378.

Robert RandolphOn Sat., March 12, Blast Furnace Blues welcomes dynamic funk and soul group Robert Randolph & the Family Band. Named one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” by Rolling Stone, Robert Randolph and his band first gained national attention with the release of the album Live at the Wetlands in 2002. The group has performed at festivals ranging from Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits, to Gathering of the Vibes and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, while Randolph’s guitar work has resulted in collaborations with icons such as Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana.

Prior to Robert Randolph’s set, guests will enjoy a scorchin’ performance by the Royal Southern Brotherhood featuring Cyril Neville of The Neville Brothers and Devon Allman. Also performing is Coco Montoya, a former member of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers who’s been called “the hottest southpaw in the blues” by Guitar One Magazine.

please credit phograph by Nathan David Kelly

Photo by Nathan David Kelly

Headlining the festival on Sun., March 13, is the one and only Charlie Musselwhite. A Blues Hall of Famer and a 2013 GRAMMY winner for Get Up!, his collaboration with Ben Harper, Musselwhite has been recording and performing for more than five decades. During his career, the legendary harmonica player has recorded and shared the stage with a who’s who of the music world including blues legends like Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf, as well as Mick Jagger, INXS, Tom Waits and the Blind Boys of Alabama.

Earlier in the day, attendees will also enjoy a special tribute to Johnny Winter as the Johnny Winter All Star Band rocks the ArtsQuest Center. This high-energy ensemble features former Johnny Winter Band members Paul Nelson on guitar and James Montgomery on vocals, performing the music of the late blues-rock guitarist. Among the other artists who will take the stage March 13 is Janiva Magness, the 2009 Blues Foundation B.B. King Entertainer of the Year and 2015 Contemporary Female Artist of the Year.

”Highmark Blue Shield is proud to once again sponsor the Blast Furnace Blues Festival, a wonderful musical event that draws blues-lovers far beyond the Lehigh Valley,” says Susan Hubley, director of community affairs at Highmark. “This year’s lineup of musicians looks as incredible as the setting at SteelStacks. We’re grateful for the opportunity to show our support for this showcase of blues talent.”

The 2016 Blast Furnace Blues Festival kicks off Fri., March 11, with an incredible night of music by some of the region’s top blues acts. Set to take the stage are Friar’s Point, Sarah Ayers Band and the Craig Thatcher Band. The festival will also offer a special blues brunch, with music by the BC Combo, March 13 at 11 a.m.

Looking for the ultimate experience at Blast Furnace Blues? The festival offers three-day VIP Packages, which include admission to the entire festival, as well as a Sunday Blues Brunch ticket, meet & greets with select headliners, commemorative poster, valet parking and more. VIP Packages, which are available in limited quantities, are only $199.


March 11
Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling
6:30 p.m.:          Friar’s Point
8:00 p.m.:          Sarah Ayers Band
9:45 p.m.:          Craig Thatcher Band

March 12
Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling
12:30 p.m.:        Ursula Ricks
1:45 p.m.:          Darrell Nulisch
3:15 p.m.:          James Armstrong
5:00 p.m.:          Coco Montoya
6:45 p.m.:          Royal Southern Brotherhood
8:30 p.m.:          Robert Randolph & the Family Band

Fowler Blast Furnace Room Stage
1:00 p.m.:          Maria Woodford Band
2:30 p.m.:          Toby Walker
4:15 p.m.:          Ursula Ricks
6:00 p.m.:          Darrell Nulisch
7:45 p.m.:          James Armstrong

March 13
Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling
11:00 a.m.:        The BC Combo
1:15 p.m.:          The Revelers
2:30 p.m.:          Janiva Magness
4:15 p.m.:          Johnny Winter All Star Band
6:00 p.m.:          Charlie Musselwhite

Fowler Blast Furnace Room Stage
12:30 p.m.:       Matt Anderson
2:00 p.m.:         James Supra
3:45 p.m.:         Matt Anderson
5:15 p.m.:         The Revelers