Lancaster musicians are planning a February festival to benefit Lancaster Roots and Blues founder Rich Ruoff’s wife, who is battling cancer.
Kevin Gannon, harmonica player for MOE Blues Band, organized the Fill the Void music festival, planned for Feb. 15, 2020, at Mulberry Art Studios. Tickets go on sale Friday by phone, and will be available at the door on the day of the event. The performing musicians are donating their time to the event, and all proceeds will go to Claudia Ruoff, to help offset her medical expenses.
Rich Ruoff announced last month that the 2020 Roots and Blues festival, planned for February, was canceled so he could focus on caring for his wife. The announcement also followed an LNP article detailing the festival’s financial struggles, including the $200,000 Ruoff owes to artists and vendors. In November, he said the approximately $200,000 he still owes consists of loans.
Gannon met Rich Ruoff through Roots and Blues. His band has played at the festival repeatedly, and he also once served as a stage manager for the festival. Gannon said he had the idea for the Fill the Void festival just last Thursday.
After he pitched the idea to Mulberry Art Studios founder April Koppenhaver and received Rich Ruoff’s blessing, Gannon began his search for performers. Before long, the festival was booked.
“I had the schedule and volunteers already set within a 24-hour period, and that just goes to show the music community in Lancaster,” Gannon said. “They are powerful.”
Reached by phone Tuesday, Rich Ruoff confirmed Gannon got his blessing before organizing the event.
“I’m glad that the local blues scene has a place to play that February,” Rich Ruoff said.
Ben Vo, Blues on the Loose, Bob Noble and Linda Koop, Corty Byron, Flapjack Jones, Little Leroys, MOE Blues, Redonyou, Songsmith, Southbound 66 and Swing Street are all slated to perform. The 10-hour festival will use two stages in Mulberry Art Studios. Electric bands will perform on the upper level, while quieter acoustic acts will play on the lower level.
Attendees will have wristbands that allow them to come and go from the event as they please, Gannon says. They will also be able to bring their own food and alcohol.
“Rich is one of ours, and he’s done so much for all the local bands that I thought, we should make this a local bands give-back (event) for Rich and Claudia for all they've done for us while we have a year off,” Gannon said. “And then we’ll pick up again with Roots and Blues next year.”