WESTERLY — If it's a Sunday in September, it means Mitchfest at the Knick.
This year marks the 11th annual Mitchfest, a musical extravaganza organized by members of Westerly's musical Christina family in honor of their father; late James "Mitch" Christina, a Westerly music-loving legend and patriarch of the Westerly blues scene.
Mitchfest 2019 takes place this Sunday from 2 to 8 p.m., and will feature some of the finest blues-rock musicians in the region, according to Bob Christina, one of the seven offspring of Mitch and the late Josephine "Nonni Jay" (Trebisacci) Christina. Bob will be joined by his brother, Franny, a former member of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, on drums.
"My step daughter, Maeve Molloy will join us too," said Bob, who said musicians will join one another throughout the six hour event, a benefit for Hope Hospice and Palliative Care of Rhode Island. "Hopefully Greg Piccolo will drop by and usually Al Copley does too."
Piccolo and Copley, of course, are also local legends: Piccolo, who plays saxophone, was a member of Duke Robillard's first band, The Variations, and Copley started Roomful of Blues with Robillard. The two generally pop into the Knick for a few sets during Mitchfest.
This year's line-up also includes DJ Dave entertaining between sets; Tall Richards & The Nite Owls; Chris Leigh Band; Johnny & the East Coast Rockers; Lisa Marie & All Shook Up; Mr. Nick, Toni Lynn Washington, Troy Gonyea and The Mitch Music Horns.
"Every year we've had four horn players competing," said Bob with a chuckle. "This year we named them 'The Mitch Music Horns.'"
The horn players include Dave Cafro and Doc Shannhouse on trumpet, Bob Hassen on baritone sax and and Scott Schleper, tenor sax, he said.
Christina said musicians this year will also include tunes in honor of Matt "Guitar" Murphy, guitarist for the Blues Brothers and noted sideman for blues legends like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Memphis Slim, who died last year at the age of 88.
Murphy, a veteran of the legendary Chicago blues scene of the 1940s and 50s, played at Mitchfests of yore, and worked alongside artists ranging from Ike Turner and Etta James to blues musicians like James Cotton, Willie Dixon and Sonny Boy Williamson.
Christina is currently wrapping up a Matt "Guitar" Murphy tribute CD, which is close to complete.
"We're on the last three studio songs," he said. "There were supposed to be 12 originally, but now we've got 22 ... with tons of guests."
Everyone from Eric Clapton to Chuck Leavell from the Allman Brothers Band, to Ronnie Earl to Christine Ohlmann have contributed, he said, and guests on Sunday can expect to hear plenty of Murphy tunes.
"Most people at Mitchfest have contributed to the Matt CD," he said.
All the Christina siblings — Adele Sykes, Paula MacLeod and Jim, Steve and Rich Christina — are expected to turn up at Mitchfest on Sunday, along with other family members and friends. Basket raffles and other surprises will also be included.