We weren’t able to catch much of the inaugural edition of the Highmark Blues & Heritage Festival that took place at the August Wilson Center in downtown Pittsburgh this past weekend, but the few acts we did manage to see Saturday afternoon were certainly good ones, with Deva Mahal finishing up the outdoor portion of the day before the Rev. Shawn Amos and Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton helped get things started on the intimate indoor stage.
Here are a few pictures we snapped during those sets, any of whom would be well worth checking out, hopefully not if, but when they return to the ‘burgh to play slightly longer engagements or at least on their recordings. You can read more about the debut album from Mahal, whose father happens to be a pretty famous blues guy by the name of Taj Mahal, here, and about Paxton, who we last caught at the Lancaster Roots & Blues Fest a few years back, here.
Although we’ve heard one or two of his albums, this was our first time seeing the Rev. Amos live, and were definitely impressed by his energetic, entertaining set, with blues legend Bobby “Blue” Bland’s son Rodd Bland on drums.
Among the acts we were disappointed to miss at the festival this weekend were headliners Bettye LaVette (Saturday) and John Scofield (Sunday) as well as earlier Saturday afternoon acts Billy Price, Teeny Tucker and Christione “Kingfish” Ingram, although we were fortunate to see the latter join Mahal for her set’s closing number, an always soulful take on Carole King’s “Take a Giant Step”. Not too shabby of a line-up for a first-time effort, one that we hope will have a long, rich history here in the Steel City!