Falls Church Has Got the Blues!


Special to the Falls Church Times
June 13, 2014

Who would have thought that Falls Church, Virginia is the home of the Blues? The Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, working with the State Theatre, and other local supporters is working to make the Little City the blues capital of Northern Virginia.  For five days we will have the best talent in the county in Falls Church in the spectacular Tinner Hill Blues Festival!

The State Theatre started things off earlier this week with two big shows — Buddy Guy on Tuesday and Leon Russell on Thursday.  Tonight they host Shemekia Copeland.

Saturday, June 14 will be the highlight.  Branded “Blues, BBQ and Brew” it will be a full day of BBQ, locally brewed Beer from Mad Fox Brewing and live Blues. National and regional acts including Teeny Tucker, Mississippi Heat, Baatin, Tom Principato, Cathy Ponton King, David Cole, Michael Roach, Ursula Ricks will perform in beautiful tree-shaded Cherry Hill Park. There will be vendors, contests, demonstrations, Big Daddy’s BBQ, Fisherman’s Cafe Soul Food, Casey’s Cake Pop’s, soft ice cream.

But wait there’s more. Live blues music all over town, all weekend, a library with kids blues book, readings, restaurants, Shop till You’re Blue at the Flea Market frenzy, farmers market with early bird blues, and a rare music film fest — all to celebrate the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, a non-profit that honors civil rights history in Falls Church, as well as Piedmont Blues icon John Jackson.

The festival is put on with support from local businesses and the city. Volunteers include students, city workers, elected officials, city council people, and seniors.

Saturday’s entertainment at Cherry Hill Park starts at noon and runs until 8pm.  General seating tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate.  While VIP seats are $25 or $30 at the gate.  Children under 12 are free.


14 Responses to “Falls Church Has Got the Blues!”

  1. D. Wayne Jones on June 13th, 2014 6:45 pm

    “The festival is put on with support from local businesses and the city. Volunteers include students, city workers, elected officials, city council people, and seniors.”

    What they mean is that the businesses,the city and the attendees pay for the event, they get free labor, and the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation (the Hendersons) get to keep the profits.

    I would like to see a listing of the donors and the amounts of their donations, the total of the ticket sales, how much the vendors pay to be there, and what they pay the artists. By the way, it’s held on city property and get free listings and advertisement by the city.

    As far as I know, there has not been any such listings presented when the Foundation approaches the city, city and civic organizations, or individual donors.

    I think it’s time to follow the money!!!

  2. Lindy Hockenberry on June 15th, 2014 9:33 pm

    Oh, you are so wrong about the festival, I’m on the very small committee that spends months organizing this event. We had a wonderful festival with folks coming from all over the metro area and beyond. Great weather and awesome music. The city’s event planer does work with us, but we pay for any city workers and police working for us. Yes, the vendors do pay for space and we bring in top-notch musicians, some local, national and even Canada and we pay them well. We get sponsors and donations from individuals, businesses, restaurants, and with the help of 50+ volunteers we have a great festival! This is the seventh year out of twenty-one year history of the Tinner Hill Blues Festival that we held the festival in Cherry Hill Park and it has become along with the Fall Festival, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Music in the Parks part of our city events. We work with the city’s EDA to celebrate our city, bring business to our restaurants and hotels. Money? Trust me we have to work to break even. Please go to the Tinner Hill web site to learn of the programs where any profits go and come join us next year. It’s a great time!

  3. Manny Little on June 16th, 2014 11:37 am

    Did anyone go? There was a lot of open parking around the park at six when we went to Famous Dave’s. The music sounded good, but twenty bucks to get in the door is a lot when if you are also buying food.

  4. D. Wayne Jones on June 16th, 2014 2:56 pm

    I understand that the vendors ran out of food in early afternoon. So, Manny, your decision to go to Famous Dave’s at 6 was a good one.

  5. Lindy Hockenberry on June 16th, 2014 3:25 pm

    Yes, one of the vendors did run out of food. We had problems with two of our major, always there, vendors. Our main BBQ guy backed out and the Baptist church person who does the fish-fry did so for medical reasons. That left us scrambling at the last minute. Things do happen. We certainly weren’t happy about it so next year we’ll have more vendors and they won’t make as much money. Vendors like to have fewer of them, but this didn’t work out.
    Everything else went very well. We had about 1200-1300 people through out the day-many parked at the Kaiser garage. Most festivals of this quality cost $20—$15 in advance. Arlington’s festival was free due to greater donations and gov’t help. Tinner Hill Blues Festival was otherwise a huge success!! We are very proud of our festival. Oh, and I forgot to put Watch Night in the list of City Events.
    Major events do bring in a lot of money to the city. Again, come join us.

  6. Gordon Theisz on June 16th, 2014 6:33 pm

    Not sure why there is criticism of this event. The music was incredible (really incredible), the food and beverage excellent, and the weather…. I am proud to be one of the sponsors of this Falls Church tradition.

  7. Bob Burnett on June 17th, 2014 1:09 pm

    Thank you for sponsoring, Gordon. It was great to walk by the fest on the way to the naming ceremony for the Community Center as the Kenneth R. Burnett Building. The faint hum of blues during the ceremony reminded me the Community Center once was the home of rock concerts: Iggy Pop, Grin (w/Nils Lofgren), Brownsville Station to name a few of the many. Howard Herman made mention of the concerts, too in his remarks.
    ( I still remember my dad coming home saying “some guy named Iggy smeared peanut butter all over himself”)

  8. R. A. Speir on June 18th, 2014 9:46 am

    Mr. Jones can find some info on the general picture as to expenses and revenues for the Tinner Hill Blues Festival by examining the IRS Form 990 filings of the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation (EIN 54-1847416). An example is here:


    Unfortunately, this filing is for 2011, but the Form shows that the 2011 festival revenues were about $47,600, and expenses were $42,391. The 2012 filing should be available from the Foundation (it is a public document), and 2013 is due in July.

    That said, very little detail on the Festival is captured in Form 990. Lindy’s hard work and excellent product notwithstanding, the City of Falls Church apparently contributes significant support to this function, and it is the main revenue producer for the Foundation. A good business practice would be to provide to the City an accounting of revenues, expenses, and the City’s contributed resources (including person hours) for the Festival. This could also be placed on the Foundation’s website. Note that this is not a unique requirement, inasmuch as the same accounting will be summarized on the IRS Form 990 covering 2014.

  9. Manny Little on June 18th, 2014 10:39 am

    Thank you for the information R.A. Is there a way to see the amount the city spent on this event?

  10. R. A. Speir on June 19th, 2014 4:31 pm

    Manny, I assume you are asking me. I have no idea.

    Maybe Lindy could address that, or the Foundation could reply. In general, although the gross revenues are sizable, it looks like their profit margin is not great. The Foundation does have an auditor (i.e., an accountant) so their compilation of the $$ is apparently acceptable from an accounting standpoint. I hope so because they pay the accountant about $3500/year (according to my recollection of the Form 990.

  11. D. Wayne Jones on June 19th, 2014 10:34 pm

    How many tickets did they sell this year?

  12. Manny Little on June 20th, 2014 12:34 pm

    It was just an open question for anyone who may know the answer. I like the idea of Falls Church doing something to get people into the city, but when I was walking around at 6 pm – the other places did not look like a normal Saturday night. Not sure if people were worried about the crowds.

  13. Lindy Hockenberry on June 20th, 2014 4:46 pm

    Thanks to Gordon and Bob for some positives. Gordon, you’ve always been so generous with you support and with all the work for VIPIS for the concerts in the park. The city’s special events staff person, Amy, helps us with our planning. TH Blues festival pays extra for staff and police security. We have use of the park. Speaking of the concerts in the park, wonderful events on Thursdays, VIPIS gets the use of the park. The Victorian Society has functions at Cherry Hill. Watch night also gets support from the city. TH gets a small grant for publicity and support from the EDA-not city funds-for the festival. CATCH, a city council appointed commission for the arts, theater, music, does get some amount of funding from the city. So, help me out here. What is really bothering you? Is it the Tinner Hill Foundation? The use of the park? City support for bringing people to our city? We had a great crowd even at the end for Teeny Tucker our closing act at about 8:00. Our program has a map of all the downtown restaurants. Our numbers were 1200-1300 without counting the volunteers. We do have some comp tickets for the bands. My Ed got one. Just what is this all about? I want to help you understand that having events in the city is a very good thing and I would like to see more! Perhaps a bluegrass festival-an Irish festival—some kind of music on every corner every weekend. Let’s support the arts, Falls Church Arts, Creative Cauldron, First Friday, Taste of Falls Church, Memorial Day, 4th of July, the Victorian Society events, Civil War Days and so much more—it’s all good for the City Of Falls Church!!

  14. Lindy Hockenberry on June 20th, 2014 5:33 pm

    By the way, why am I answering these question and not Nikki & Ed Henderson?
    I was the one who eight years ago suggested that we bring the festival to the park because I was tired of dancing on parking lots. I love the blues-and most ALL music-John Jackson, to whom the festival is dedicated, was a great “rediscovered blues man” a man who shared much of his talent with our city. Most of all, I don’t think Nikki & ED need to be on the defensive—I can speak for them and for me. I am very proud of this festival!

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