The New York State Blues Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this summer with an all star lineup that includes Amy Helm, Friday night headliners the Nighthawks with Bob Margolin and festival headliners JJ Grey & Mofro.
The 25th New York State Blues Festival takes place July 7 and 8, returning to downtown Syracuse’s Clinton Square. The festival kicks off at 3 p.m. with Blues Ignition. The free festival showcases many local and national acts. Friday night features Central New Yorkers the Carolyn Kelly Blues Band, 2016 International Blues Challenge finalists the Norman Jackson Band, the Noah Wotherspoon Band featuring 2015 International Blues Challenge Best Guitarist Noah Wotherspoon and headliners the Nighthawks with Bob Margolin, who got their start opening for Muddy Waters.
Saturday’s activities start at noon with a bottleneck slide guitar workshop led by Rochester’s Gordon Munding, who also performs his delta blues later in the day. Funk trio Neil Minet and Electric Mud kick off the music on the main stage, which also features Morris and the Hepcats, Central New York’s Ron Spencer Band, Slam Allen and the Chris O’Leary Band, who got their start playing with the legendary Levon Helm. Fans will be excited for the final two acts of the festival. Helm’s daughter Amy hits the main stage at 7:30 p.m. followed by headliners JJ Grey & Mofro.
In addition to the weekend’s events, a pre-festival show takes place on Wednesday, July 5 featuring Walter Trout with Nick Schnebelen at the Finger Lakes Ballroom in the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. Tickets are $25. Thursday, July 6 is Blues Night on the Town with free shows at several venues around Syracuse.