On January 29, Chenango Blues Festival organizers were presented with the “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award during this year’s International Blues Challenge. The award is in recognition of their twenty four years of all-volunteer festivals presented “by blues fans, for blues fans.” They have consistently presented both fan favorites and the very best new talent they can find in a relaxed setting, with many fans stating that this is their favorite blues festival every year. A look at this year’s 24th annual Preferred Mutual Chenango Blues Festival lineup reveals another astounding collection of musical talent.
Frontier Communications – Free Friday night show, August 19th
6:00 – 6:45 p.m. – Funky Blu Roots The festival kicks off with a Central New York based band with a diverse catalog of styles. Veteran blues fans will recognize singer, harmonica player, and all-around blues ambassador Tom Townsley contributing his talents.
7:15 – 8:30 p.m. – Englishman Laurence Jones, just 24 years old, has already had 3 record releases on the prestigious Ruf Records label. His newest, Take Me High, was released on July 22. He has led his eponymous power trio since the age of 17 and does so while living with Crohn’s disease, requiring a daily regimen of diet and medication and monthly two-hour treatments. While studying at Birmingham University, he was faced with a decision – stay and take his final exams or go on tour with Johnny Winter and Walter Trout. There are some things that simply can’t be learned in the classroom.
9:00 – 10:30 p.m. – “For blues fans, by blues fans” is the Chenango Blues Festival’s guiding principle. They respond to fans by routinely bringing back crowd favorites. Davina and the Vagabonds were a huge hit on the main stage in 2012, and return to headline Friday’s free show at the Chenango County Fairgrounds. Their sound encompasses the New Orleans style reminiscent of Professor Longhair, gospel, soul, Tin Pan Alley songs and beyond. Davina Sowers is an entrancing presence backed by a rhythm section featuring a stand-up bass and the deft drumming of Conrad McRae Hammergen while rounded out with a trumpet and trombone. DATV released their latest recording, the live album Nicollet and Tenth in March of this year.
Saturday, August 20th
The Saturday schedule lists over ten hours of music, alternating between the Sheffield Bio-Science Infield Stage and the Nelson & Flanagan/Grouse Ridge Kennel Tent Stage
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. – Noah Wotherspoon Last year, Wotherspoon and his band mates placed second in the finals at the International Blues Challenge with Wotherspoon receiving the Best Guitarist Award. Those achievements have had him in demand at festivals and venues from coast to coast. Earlier this year, the band saw its debut release entitled Mystic Mud.
1:45 – 3:00 p.m.- Southern Avenue In a town renowned for premier musical talent, Memphis-based Southern Avenue is generating a lot of buzz for its live performances. Israeli born Ori Naftaly on guitar, Daniel McKee on bass, and sisters Tierinii Jackson on vocals and drummer Tikyra Jackson make up this dynamic band that is sure to catch fans’ ears and turn their heads.
4:00 – 5:15 p.m. – Curtis Salgado One of the world’s very best blues and soul vocalists, Portland, Oregon’s Curtis Salgado, makes an infrequent swing to the East Coast and fans will come from near and far to hear him. In 2013, Salgado was the Blues Music Award Winner for B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year and also won Soul Blues Album of the Year. An extraordinary harmonica player as well, Salgado’s latest Alligator Records recording, The Beautiful Lowdown, was released in April of this year.
6:15 – 7:30 p.m.- Canned Heat The legendary blues band still features the rhythm section of Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra on drums and bassist Larry “The Mole” Taylor. The group took its name from a Tommy Johnson tune referring to the habit of straining inexpensive Sterno through cloth and drinking the alcohol. Best known for their hits “On The Road Again,” “Let’s Work Together” and the unofficial theme song to the movie Woodstock, “Going Up The Country,” they also were credited with rediscovering numerous blues men and reviving their recording and performing careers.