Booker T. Jones of Booker T. & The MG’s Headlines The Second Annual Reading Blues Fest

Friday, Nov. 16 thru Sunday, Nov.18


Location: Primarily at the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading


The festival is being presented by Berks Arts Council with John Ernesto as fest general manager — the same organization that brings you the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest.


Friday, Nov. 16 – 6 p.m.

Opening Night Welcome Party: The Craig Thatcher Band with special guest G.E. Smith at the Crossroads at the DoubleTree


Friday, Nov. 16 – 8 p.m.

Booker T. Jones Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient will be joined by Ruthie Foster and the DOXA Gospel Ensemble. DoubleTree Grand Ballroom


Jones was one of the architects of the Memphis soul sound of the 1960s as the leader of Booker T. & The MG’s. As a producer, songwriter, arranger and instrumentalist, he has worked with artists such as Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker, Otis Redding, and Albert King.


Ruthie Foster won the Koko Taylor Award for Traditional Blues Female at the 2018 Blues Music Awards. It was her eighth Blues Music Award.


Blind Boy Paxton draws from blues and jazz before World War II. Two shows: noon and 6 p.m.: Crossroads at the DoubleTree.


Saturday, Nov. 17 – 10:30 a.m

Guitar Conversations with G.E. Smith and Craig Thatcher hosted by Michael Cloeren.  DoubleTree Amphitheater.


Saturday, Nov. 17 – 1:30 p.m.

Chicago Plays the Stones featuring Ronnie Baker Brooks, Billy Branch and more, plus Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials. DoubleTree Grand Ballroom.


Billy Branch – this dynamic harmonica player and singer has recorded with Willie Dixon, Johnny Winter, Lou Rawls, Koko Taylor, John Primer and Taj Mahal.


Lil’ Ed Williams – this blues slide guitarist, singer and songwriter with The Blues Imperials enthrall audiences.


Alexis P. Suter and The Ministers of Sound – 4:30 p.m.

GoggleWorks Center for the Arts


Tommy Castro & The Painkillers plus Tinsley Ellis – 8 p.m.

Tommy Castro is known for intense vocals, stellar musicianship and dynamic performances. Tinsley Ellis brings the wizardry of Southern blues-rock guitar to the stage. DoubleTree Grand Ballroom


Sunday, Nov. 18 – 10:00 a.m.

“Sidemen: Long Road to Glory,” this special screening is an intimate look at the incredible lives and legacies of piano player Pinetop Perkins, drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and guitarist Hubert Sumlin, all Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf sidemen. There is a post-film Q&A with director Scott D. Rosenbaum with Michael Cloeren as host.


Sunday, November 18 – Noon

The festival finale features four distinct concerts: Shemekia Copeland, John Nemeth with The Berks Horns, Jazz Gets the Blues: Clarence Spady & Nick Colionne, and Vanessa Collier.


Whether she’s belting out a raucous blues-rocker, firing up a blistering soul-shouter, bringing the spirit to a gospel-fueled R&B song, Shemekia Copeland sounds like no one else.


John Nemeth is an electrifying blues and soul harmonicist, singer and songwriter.


Guitarist Clarence Spady combines blues, jazz, funk, Latin and rock into his own unique style. Urban and contemporary, Nick Colionne combines jazz, R&B, blues and funk into an unmistakable sound that is instantly recognizable.


Vanessa Collier brings her fiery performances, soulful voice and searing saxophone solos to the stage.


Friday, Nov. 16, and Sat., Nov. 17 – 11:30 p.m.

The Blues Jam with the Craig Thatcher Band and special guest G.E. Smith hosting Friday night and Vanessa Collier hosting Saturday night.


For ticket information, please visit