Newbold Brings back the Blues

The neighborhood’s Blues festival returns, featuring barbecue options and copious craft beer selections.

By Joseph Myers

Garden at 16th and Snyder/West Passyunk maintained by South Philly Green.

There is never a dull moment in South Philly, and that becomes even more apparent when the spring and summer arrive. Hoping to strengthen community connections right before one season yields to another, the Newbold Community Development Corporation (CDC) will hold its second Blues Festival from 1-6 p.m. June 15, making the afternoon gathering a celebration of barbecue and craft beer and a chance to raise funds for the South Philly Green community greening program.

“At this time of year, people are seeking amazing outdoor experiences, and we’re promising they’ll have a few if they join us,” ninth-year CDC president Tim Lidiak said of the event set to occur at 16th Street and West Passyunk Avenue. “Through our lineup of musicians, eateries, and breweries, we know this will be a fulfilling day for everyone involved.”

The free-to-attend festival returns following a hiatus in 2018. The break gave Lidiak an opportunity to ponder how to follow-up on 2017’s hit debut–and wow even more attendees. Thanks to the CDC’s careful planning, a crowd of 2,000 are expected to attend this year—four times the total of the initial festival.

“We see the blues as being the core of American popular music,” Lidiak said of the genre that gives the street party its name. “It’s something I’m very familiar with through my Texas roots, and barbecue is right up there, too.”

What’s in store? Blues, Brews, and BBQ

Thirsty Soul, 1551 W. Passyunk Ave., will serve a slow-roasted pork sandwich, Mexican street corn on a stick, and a black-eyed pea vegan burger. Patrons can wash down the trio with their signature punch bowl cocktails. The restaurant will also serve as the event’s official after-party spot until early the next morning.

Thirsty Soul proprietor Adrienne Salvatore-Markey described how participating in the festival helps the 10-month old establishment meet its core objectives of giving back to the community: “The Newbold Blues Festival is designed as a fundraiser for maintaining the CDC’s public spaces program, and The Thirsty Soul is a proud supporter of [these] efforts.”

The event’s beneficiary, South Philly Green, maintains the gardens and planters along West Passyunk Avenue, in addition to serving as tree tenders for East Point Breeze, Newbold, West Passyunk and Girard Estate.
Festival organizer Tim Lidiak at the CDC’s Sausage Festival, scheduled for September 21, 2019.

“The day is really going to be a great chance for us to show off what I call ‘downtown Newbold,’” Lidiak said of the labor of love. “We have a bigger location than we did two years ago, so that makes for a better draw. Add in new and returning musicians, breweries, and food destinations, along with the fact that the festival will occur the day before Father’s Day, and I can guarantee that everyone will feel welcomed and appreciated for helping to make Newbold the prize destination that it is.”