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.
8:45 until ?? Anders Osborne A triple threat as a vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, Osborne’s relentless touring has won him thousands of dedicated fans throughout the world. He has written hit songs for pop, blues, and country artists and performed with reggae, blues, funk, swamp rock, jazz, and jam bands. His brand new recording, Flower Box, was released July 22.
1:00 – 1:45 p.m. – Vanessa Collier Band Led by the Berklee School of Music trained vocalist, saxophonist, and songwriter Collier, this group looks to be yet another in a long list of outstanding emerging artists identified and brought to Norwich by Chenango Blues Festival organizers.
3:00 – 4:00 p.m. – Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons At the 2016 IBC Awards, Hunter and Seamons won first place in the solo/duo category. A unique approach has the pair focusing primarily on pre-World War II music including jazz, Appalachian folk music, field hollers and work songs, and jug band favorites. Respectful musical historians as well as first class musicians, Hunter and Seamons are an opportunity to hear songs and sounds not always presented at festivals.
5:15 – 6:15 p.m. – Duke Robillard No less an expert than Jerry Portnoy, who once held the harmonica slot in Muddy Waters’ band, has said of Robillard, “Believe me, I’ve played with all of them, and Duke is the man.” He played the main stage in 2012 with his full electrified band and returns this year for an acoustic set, highlighting his 2016 Blues Music Award winning album, The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard, on Stony Plain records.
7:30 – 8:45 p.m. – Carolyn Wonderland With a raspy edge and a powerful delivery, Carolyn Wonderland’s voice surrounds the listener, grabs hold and doesn’t let go. Add to that her impressive attacking style of playing guitar without a pick and you have an artist that easily attracts fans throughout the U.S. and Europe. Her appreciation of those fans was never more evident than following a recent incident in which her tour money and personal belongings, including cell phone, wallet and passport, were stolen while she was on stage in the Canary Islands. Fearing she might have to end her European tour, fans rallied behind a gofundme effort and raised a significant amount of funds in ten hours. The U.S. Embassy in Madrid was able to provide her with a replacement passport and, following the conclusion of her European tour, she will return to the U.S. and blow the roof off the tent stage. Do not miss this blues woman!
Ticket Prices: Friday night show is free! Tickets for Saturday – $25.00 in advance; $35.00 on the day of the show. See the festival website for more info.