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Shannon Dennis and Larry Toles, both of American Canyon, dance to the music from Little Frankie Lee at the Russell City Blues festival, in downtown Hayward, Calif., on Saturday, July 10, 2010. This is the 11th time the city has hosted the festival which runs through Sunday.(Anda Chu/Staff)

While brainstorming ideas to raise funds for the Pleasant Hill Teen Center, Katrina Hunn remembered a festival that combined music and craft beer in Chico where she attended college.

So Hunn, recreation supervisor for teens and special events with the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District, thought of having a Blues and Brews Festival.

This year Pleasant Hill Recreation, in partnership with the Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce, celebrates its fifth year of bringing local musicians and craft beer to the community.

"This event is growing each year," said Hunn, who estimates a crowd of about 2,000 to 3,000 last year. "It's a great community event that features live music and a variety of craft beer in a park setting."

Paul Cotruvo, a local musician, who's been the head of the music committee for Blues & Brews Festival since it started five years ago, has many connections to the music scene in Contra Costa County. This year, he wanted to highlight local groups so the six bands featured are all from the county, said Ann Luke, chamber executive director.

Frank P. Giovanni, Jr. has been a musician for nearly 20 years. He and his band, Frankie G & the Conviction, are based in the Antioch/Walnut Creek area.

"News of how enjoyable the Pleasant Hill Blues and Brews event made it to me via Facebook and blues music circles about three-and-a-half years ago," Giovanni said.

He and his band are honored to be a part of the annual event.

"In this 'Google age,' it is sometimes work to get people to appreciate live music," Giovanni said. "There is a lot of difference between 'YouTubing' something musical and watching and hearing a live performance. This festival gathers music lovers and those who appreciate craft beers all in one area, promoting a positive atmosphere for those in attendance and for the community."

Aside from the friendly atmosphere and easy parking, the centrally-located event offers visitors a chance to dance as well as listen to music, he said.

While those attending must be 21 and older to enter the craft beer tent, there are also family activities, Luke said.

"Friends who meet there and listen to fantastic music, taste great craft beers -- with wine available for those wine lovers -- have plenty of choices when they get hungry," she said.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Pleasant Hill Teen Center and the Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce. The sponsorship opportunities offered to local businesses provide the benefit of exposure for their product or service to thousands of people in one day, Luke said.

The partnership between two local organizations to raise funds is a win-win for the entire community, said Luke.

"We are always interested in creating opportunities for our business members to promote themselves and be more visible in the community and with our resources, we are able to drive more revenue to the event," Luke said.

Volunteers are still needed to help with setting up, cleaning up and beer ticket sales. Call 925-682-0896 to sign up.

if you go
WHO: Pleasant Hill Recreation & Park District and Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce
WHAT: Fifth annual Blues & Brews Festival
WHEN: 6-9 p.m. Friday, July 18, pre-party concert; noon-6 p.m. Saturday, July 19
WHERE: Pleasant Hill Park, 147 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill
COST: $35 includes commemorative glass, entertainment, beer tasting from 1-5 p.m. Limited tickets at door $45. Purchase online and save $10. For VIP access for craft beer tasting noon-5 p.m. Saturday, tickets are $55 (advance purchase only)
INFORMATION: bluesandbrewsfestival.com