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Blues in Bisbee returns: Local nonprofit organizing event for second year

After stepping in at the 11th hour last year to save the “Blues in Bisbee” music festival, the Easterseals Blake Foundation is staging the event for the second time Saturday, boasting a lineup featuring internationally known bands along with local acts.

This time, though, the event organizers are a bit more prepared, having had more than a month to put the music festival together, and hope for a crowd of at least 2,500 people after about 800 came in 2018.

“We planned it with only five weeks’ notice last year, so we were thrilled with 800 people,” said Dina Scalone, the Easterseals Blake Foundation’s chief philanthropy officer, who led the last-minute scramble to organize the event in 2018. Scalone was referring to the organization resurrecting the festival after it had been canceled when its previous organizer, Bisbee community radio station KBRP, was no longer able to put the festival together.

The 2019 version of Blues in Bisbee will feature such names as Melissa Reaves, a blues-inspired rock ‘n’ roll musician who has toured across the country and internationally; and the Bad News Blues Band out of Tucson, who also have toured around the world.

Old City Park, 62 Brewery Ave. in Bisbee, will be the site of the main stage, where seven acts will perform from 1 p.m. until 10 p.m. Meanwhile, there will be a Gulch Local Bands Stage in the main parking lot across from the Stock Exchange Saloon and Grill, said Annette Mather, Easterseals Blake Foundation events and volunteer manager who is organizing this year’s iteration of the festival. At least five local bands are slated to play the side stage, Mather said.

Proceeds from Blues in Bisbee will support the Easterseals Blake Foundation, which provides aid to people with disabilities and their families across Southern Arizona. Scalone said it is the largest nonprofit in Southern Arizona, serving 10 counties, including more than 1,000 children and their families in Cochise County.

Mather said the festival is well organized and ready to go this year, having had the full year to put it together, but added they could still use about 25 more volunteers. People interested in giving their time can volunteer any time on Saturday, from setup at 7 a.m. to closing the event down after 10 p.m.

“While we have a lot of volunteers already signed up, we still need more,” Mather said, adding that people who volunteer the day of the event “will get a t-shirt and be put to work.”

Though Mather and Scalone are excited about the fun aspects of Saturday’s Blues in Bisbee, they also said there’s benefit for them in familiarizing thousands of people who might not otherwise have heard of the Easterseals Blake Foundation with the nonprofit’s efforts.

“All of the money that we raise is going to stay right there in Cochise County,” Scalone said. “We also see this event as a great way of getting our name out there, making sure people know that we are a local nonprofit.

“And we would love people to know that they can direct their tax credit dollars to us. We’re eligible for Arizona foster care tax credits.”


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