NEPA Scene Staff

Witness ‘The Faces and Voices of The Blues III’ at the Tripp House

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From a press release:

On Oct. 4-5, Scranton’s historic Tripp House will be the setting for “The Faces and Voices of The Blues III.” This two-day event, hosted by PocoNotes, will showcase the images of acclaimed documentary photographer Jim Gavenus, the guitar mastery of Nashville blues rocker Patrick Sweany, and a collection of unique instruments designed and handcrafted by Dave Whetsell of Snikle Cigar Box Guitars.

Separately and together, Gavenus, Sweany, and Whetsell are more than just “Faces” and “Voices” and more than just “The Blues.” Each of them will bring their special creativity to an event that will include a museum-quality photo exhibit, an interactive display of cigar box guitars, a photography workshop, a “Porch Time” jam session, a concert, and a guitar workshop. Their talent and years of dedication to their respective crafts will serve to foster a new appreciation for a century’s worth of music that is truly an American art form.

Jim Gavenus

The “Faces” artist is Jim Gavenus, whose photographs are exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide and were seen recently by 40 million viewers of the 55th Annual Grammy Awards. His images cover a wide range of subjects and have earned him the Gordon Parks Documentary Photographer of the Year Award and a place in the North Carolina Bluegrass Hall of Fame. He has photographed dozens of Hall of Fame musicians on – and behind – some of the most famous stages in the music world, and his images appear for Sony Music, Columbia Records, Lost Highway Records, Merlefest, and FarmAid. Gavenus, who hails from Luzerne and Berks Counties, travels extensively to lecture, exhibit, and expand his portfolio and shares his passion for photography as a professor at Luzerne County Community College as well as through innovative photography workshops.

Patrick Sweany

The “Voices” artist is Patrick Sweany, who has been described by Rolling Stone as a “soon-to-be-legendary guitar man” and has 2.5 million quarterly “plays” on Pandora, where he is likened to The Black Keys, Dan Auerbach, Marc Ford, and The White Stripes. He is a musical omnivore who has devoured every popular music sound of the last 70 years and mixed them together seamlessly into his own style. As he gained prominence as an acoustic blues guitarist and singer, Patrick drew the attention of notables like Jimmy Thackery, who brought him on tour; Roy Book Binder, who declared him to be the one from his generation who would carry the music forward; and Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna), who invited him to teach at his prestigious Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp alongside legendary guitarists like G.E. Smith (“Saturday Night Live,” Roger Waters), Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm), Bill Kirchen (Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen), Steve Earle, Bob Margolin (Muddy Waters), and Tommy Emmanuel. Sweany has shared the stage with Dr. John, Sonny Landreth, The Black Keys, Los Straitjackets, Justin Townes Earle, Hot Tuna, and Tedeschi Trucks Band and his recent tour itinerary included diverse events like Merlefest, Newport Folk Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Telluride Blues and Brews Festival, and Nashville’s Americana Music Association’s Annual Conference.

Dave Whetsell’s Snikle cigar box guitars

The “Special Guest” is Dave Whetsell, a Clarks Summit resident who first learned of PocoNotes when he attended one of their events in 2013. As is often the case with their audience members, a friendship developed and they became increasingly aware of his ability to build stunning guitars out of cigar boxes. The origin of these primitive instruments dates back to the early 1840s with a popularity that, over the years, has vacillated between near extinction to its first major resurgence during the Great Depression, when young musicians who were short on cash built their own guitars and, again, as they became an integral part of the roots music movement. So, Whetsell was invited to add his unique creations to this event as one more way for people to hear, see, and feel the music.

The photo and cigar box guitar exhibits are free and will be open to the public on Saturday from noon-6 p.m. and on Sunday from noon-4 p.m.

Gavenus will conduct a photography workshop on Saturday from 1p.m.-3 p.m., after which he and his students will join Patrick and Dave for a two-hour “Porch Time” jam session, an informal gathering where everyone is invited to bring an instrument and “pick and grin” as the music is brought to life through songs and stories.

At the Saturday evening concert, Sweany will captivate his audience with his latest CD, “Close to the Floor,” which has been met by sold-out audiences, glowing reviews, and industry accolades across the United States and Europe.

Sweany’s guitar workshop will be the final event of the weekend and will be held on Sunday from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. It will be geared toward all levels of guitar playing, and the stories he shares are sure to entertain everyone.

Although there is no charge for the workshops, reservations are requested. Tickets for the concert are $25 in advance for adults and two for $25 for seniors and students and can be purchased from PocoNotes at or 888-800-POCO (7626) or in Scranton at Jaida Spa (3 West Olive St.), Duffy Accessories (218 Linden St.), and The Greenhouse Project (200 Arthur Ave. in Nay Aug Park).

As an all-ages event with an emphasis on generations of families sharing this experience together, there is no charge for children 12 years of age and under who attend with an adult. To thank the members of the military for their service to our country, they and their families are also invited to attend at no charge.

This event is hosted by PocoNotes, which was co-founded by Dolores Hippler and Patrick Harper after their personal experience with the tragedy of Sept. 11. These two “children of the ‘60s” made a decision to help their generation fulfill their promise to leave the world in better shape than they found it. For them, it is by making the world a kinder place through music by hosting artists people need to know – in places people need to see. With a total of 17 events and 62 artists already to their credit, five of whom are Grammy-nominated musicians, “The Faces and Voices of The Blues III” is their latest gathering of good people and good music in an intimate setting where the artists and the audience will create something special together.

This is their fifth event at the Tripp House, which is the stunningly restored landmark located at 1011 North Main Ave. in Scranton. Its elegance, historic importance, and architectural beauty provide the perfect backdrop for presenting music that has been influencing artists for decades.

The media sponsors for this event are Highway 81 Revisited, WNTI-Public Radio at Centenary College, and WVIA. Funding for this project was provided in part by a Lackawanna County Community Arts and Culture Grant, a program of Lackawanna County Commissioners Corey D. O’Brien, Jim Wansacz, and Patrick M. O’Malley, as well as by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, which is administered by The Pocono Arts Council.

In light of the compelling “support local” dynamic within Scranton, Jessee’s Place, which has been described as one of the area’s “best kept secrets,” will be on the premises to sell food and beverages throughout the two-day event. In addition, PocoNotes will donate a portion of the proceeds to The Greenhouse Project to support their mission to grow a sustainable community through education, food, and healthy living.