Guitarist and singer Jim Popik used to be involved as a trustee of the Sourlands Regional Planning Council, but now he prefers to be just as involved by helping to organize the annual Sourland Music Festival. The gathering is slated for Saturday, July 25, from 4 to 11 p.m. at the Hillsborough Country Club; in the event of rain, it will be held on Sunday, July 26.

For several years the event was held on a smaller scale at Hillbilly Hall in Ringoes, just outside of Hopewell, but for the last three years, since Popik has been involved, the event has been held in a large field at the Hillsborough Country Club.

“This is the fourth year I’m playing and my third year helping to produce the festival,” Popik says. Popik’s group, the Ten Foot Tall Band, will perform, along with Piscataway-based harmonica player Big Nancy Swarbrick and her group, the Supreme Court Blues Band. Also slated to perform are vocalist Wenonah Brooks and Dan Lavoie and the Mountainview Band.

The goal of the festival, Popik says, “is to bring awareness about the planning council and what they’re doing by way of saving the last remaining intact forest in central New Jersey. In addition to that, they are also involved in historic preservation; there are some old properties they’re preserving. We’ve always tried to involve musicians from the area.” Past performers at the festival have included Bliggins and Goines, Amphibian, singer-songwriter Chris Harford, and the Killer Blues Band, a trio from South Brunswick led by violinist and guitarist Perry Leandro.

This year Big Nancy Swarbrick’s Supreme Court will include Princeton area saxophonist Dave Homan, drummer Ronnie Howden, formerly of the British orchestral rock group Nektar, and either Sonny Kenn or Junior Mack on lead guitar. Swarbrick contributes sweet harmonica melodies to most of the tunes the band plays.

As in years past, Popik says, “the musicians are only being paid a stipend. All the proceeds go to the Sourland Planning Council, which seeks to preserve and protect the Sourland Region, from Hillsborough all the way out to Lambertville.”

Popik’s Ten Foot Tall Band includes himself on vocals and guitar, Jeanne Yarrow on vocals, guitarist Jeff Page, keyboardist Pete Nardone, bassist Luke Kessel, and drummer Andy Janowiak. The band has performed in several area venues, including the Stockton Inn, the Black Potatoe Music Festival, the Pattenburg Pub, and Conduit in Trenton.

“What’s cool about this festival,” Popik says, “is it’s really low-key, it’s only $15, and it’s easy to get to. It’s like a giant backyard party and there’s no security or fencing around the stages or anything separating the audience from the performers. There’s the balloon festival and other festivals with thousands of people, but with this festival you just park, walk in, sit down, and relax.”

Sourland Music Festival, Sourland Planning Council, Hillsborough Country Club. Saturday, July 25, 4 to 11 p.m. Ten Foot Tall Band, Big Nancy and the Supreme Court, Wenonah Brooks, and Dan Lavoie and the Mountainview Band with rock, blues, jazz, acoustic, and bluegrass. Silent auction. Bring a chair or blanket. Rain date Sunday, July 26. Donation $15. 908-369-5977 or www.sourlandmusicfest.net.

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