Updated: 24th Annual Chenango Blues Festival Lineup Announced

UPDATED 7-15-16:

The Chenango Blues Fest has released its full lineup and schedule for the two different stages at the festival, Sheffield Bio-Science Infield Stage and the Nelson & Flanagan/Grouse Ridge Tent Stage.

Things kick off on Friday, Aug. 19 with a free show sponsored by Frontier Communications. The evening features some of Syracuse’s best artists with the Funky Blu Roots, followed with a unique performance by Laurence Jones, an up and coming British Rocker not common to U.S. lineups, and Davina and the Vegabonds, a returning festival star.

On Saturday, things  kick off at the Infield Stage at Noon with Noah Witherspoon, followed by Southern Avenue. The evening includes icons Curtis Salgado, Canned Heat and Anders Osborne.

The Nelson & Flannagan/Grouse Tent Stage kicks off performances at 1:00 p.m. with Berklee School of Music graduate Venessa Collier on sax. The 2016 Blues Challenge winners, Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons  follow. The acoustic trio set of Duke Robillard is expected to be one of the highlights of the festival. Last, Carolyn Wonderland, a Texas Blues legend, closes out performances at the tent stage that evening.

NYS Music is a proud supporter of the 24th annual Chenango Blues Fest.


Central New York’s dirty little secret is the annual Chenango Blues Festival held in Norwich each summer. Year after year, the festival brings a who’s who of blues, jazz, zydeco and gospel legends and up-and-comers to this small city in Chenango County, yet the festival itself is largely unknown to many. This year’s takes place August 19 and 20 at the Chenango County Fairgrounds.

Past artists gracing the fairground stages have included Charlie Musselwhite, Guitar Shorty, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Koko Taylor, Duke Robillard, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Shemekia Copeland, Robert Randolph and the North Mississippi Allstars. Robert Randolph

Among this year’s artists is Minnesota swing revivalists Davina and the Vagabonds. Davina Sowers has a voice and piano style that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Her Vagabonds, Zack Lozier (trumpet,vocals), Ben Link (trombone, vocals), Connor McRae Hammergren (drums, vocals) and Matt Blake (upright bass) reach back into the Great American Songbook for inspiration and deliver a rollicking and modern take on Chicago blues and New Orleans jazz. Davina and the Vagabonds headline Friday night.

Saturday night provides a treat for Woodstock fans, with a set from Canned Heat. The current lineup consists of Larry “The Mole” Taylor on bass, guitar and vocals, Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra on drums, Dale Spalding on harmonica, guitar and lead vocals and John “JP” Paulus on guitar, filling in while regular guitarist Harvey Mandel recovers from health issues.

Anders Osborne, who recently performed a stellar set at Syracuse’s Westcott Theatre, will close the show Saturday night. Osborne is constantly on the road and has performed with Keb Mo, Stanton Moore, Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Toots and the Maytalls and Phil Lesh. His style has been described in USA Today as “Fiery anthems and tumultuous confessional songs punctuated with raw, inspired guitar.”

Anders Osborne - K. Stockbridge - IMG_5357 copy

Saturday’s schedule also features legendary guitarist Duke Robillard doing an acoustic set. The Duke has been named many times over as Best Blues Guitarist by The Blues Foundation’s W.C. Handy Awards and has been an influential blues guitarist for decades.

Closing out the fest on Saturday is “the reigning queen of Austin blues,” Carolyn Wonderland Band. Daniel Gewertz of the Boston Herald offers this praise of the artist:

A dollop of Janis Joplin, a slice of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and a big load of soulful individuality… that’s Wonderland, a seething-hot Texas singer-guitarist. And she can write, too! Produced by Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson, Miss Understood focuses on tough yet vulnerable blues, but also captures the melodic soul of classic American song… No wonder Dylan is an avowed fan.

Check out her blistering vocals and licks on Blind Willie Johnson’s “Ain’t Nobody’s Fault But Mine” with Bonnie Raitt in this video from a 2007 performance in Austin.

Festival Chairman Eric Larsen says the Chenango Blues Festival drew more than 5,000 people last year. The Chenango Blues Association was also awarded the prestigious Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive” award on Jan. 29th in Memphis for its 24 continuous years of festivals and summer music programs in Norwich. They have a real knack for killer lineups on the main stage, and emerging artists in the tent stage.

From left: Barbara Newman, CEO of The Blues Foundation, Chenango Blues Association delegates Eric Larsen, Pam Larsen, Linda Palmatier, Steve Palmatier and Blues Foundation Board President, Paul Benjamin. In January 2016, representatives of the Chenango Blues Association traveled to Memphis to receive the 2016 Keeping the Blues Alive award.
From left: Barbara Newman, CEO of The Blues Foundation, Chenango Blues Association delegates Eric Larsen, Pam Larsen, Linda Palmatier, Steve Palmatier and Blues Foundation Board President, Paul Benjamin.  In January 2016, representatives of the Chenango Blues Association traveled to Memphis to receive the 2016 Keeping the Blues Alive award.

Tickets for this year’s festival can be had beginning June 1. Advance sale tickets are $25 and day-of tickets are $35 at the gate.

The festival is put together by the Chenango Blues Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit with the following mission:

To foster an appreciation of uniquely American music forms including blues, jazz, zydeco and gospel. They strive to accomplish this by presenting the highest caliber of artists in diverse settings for the lowest possible cost. This strategy is designed to make the music accessible to as many people as possible.