Summer time is what NYS Music considers their busy season. With outdoor venues in full swing, festivals across the country, and every band that is touring out on the road at this time hitting the Northeast during the warmer weather, it becomes quite hectic keeping readers up to date on the latest of happenings. Sometimes once things settle down a bit, it is better to just reflect back with a cup of pumpkin spice coffee or a great Saranac Oktoberfest, and enjoy these highlights after the fact. In this case, it’s time to reflect on the 2016 Great NY State Fair.
With a brand new entrance, the Fair welcomed more than 1,117,620 visitors through its gates this year, breaking all previous records. With the new found space acquired after the demolition of the Grandstand area, the Fair was able to spread out a bit more giving fair goers more elbow room with its new configuration. With all concerts now completely free to Fair goers, it was a pleasure to be able to see a wide variety of acts as they visited Central NY this year.
The lineup this year offered a little something for everyone. Newcomers X Ambassadors made an appearance as well as Kesha, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Toto, Survivor, Macy Gray, Brian Wilson, Herman’s Hermits, Flo Rida, Culture Club, Rachel Platten, A Great Big World, and Chicago together with a multitude of other national and local acts from today and yesterday throughout the fairgrounds.
Being a child of the 80’s, Air Supply was one of those bands that dominated the airwaves during that time singing ballad after ballad touching the hearts of many. This Australian duo have been making beautiful music since 1975 and this long lasting duo was widely welcomed by fairgoers this year. Choosing from their expansive catalog of hits, such as “All Out of Love,” “Even The Nights Are Better,” and “Every Woman In The World” to name a few, Roger Hitchcock and Graham Russell jumped around the stage in the heat, waving and pointing to fans just as they did back in the height of their careers back in the 1980’s. Those in attendance were well entertained, and it was a pleasure to take the time travel back to my 7th grade dance once again.
Another band extremely popular in the 70’s and 80’s drew a huge crowd when The Commodores played on Day 5. Still moving and grooving like they did all those years ago, William King, Walter “Clyde” Orange and J.D. Nicholas played favorites such as “Nightshift,” “Easy,” “Three Times A Lady,” and their signature song “Brick House.” The electric experience had the crowd up on their feet the majority of the night singing and dancing along.
Bruce Hornsby and The Noisemakers also drew a large crowd. Playing favorites such as “Mandolin Rain” and “The Way It Is,” this musical master proved to be so much more than the pop star one expected. Traveling around in the early 90’s, Bruce joined the legendary group The Grateful Dead on tour, and has performed with legendary country performer Ricky Skaggs since 2007. You can see the influences of these two genres reflected in his new body of work which pleased me beyond belief. Concert attendees anticipated a remix of music that brought him to light and he delivered that and so much more with his new sound of bluegrass music. Amazingly entertaining was Mr. Bruce Hornsby and The Noisemakers. Yes indeed.
On the final Sunday fair goers had a nice mix of rock and blues as they welcomed legendary blues guitarist Robert Cray at the early show. Cray’s music was uplifting and catchy as he worked cute comparisons of love and food and animals into a mix of bluesy goodness that brought a smile to your face. With numbers like “Side Dish,” “Chicken In The Kitchen,” and “Great Big Ole House,” Robert Cray’s ability to work puns into his lyrics was endearing and his musical genius proved to the packed crowd that he is one of the greats.
Daughtry packed Chevy Court, as thousands of fans waited for the former American Idol star to take the stage. Surprised by the size of the crowd taking in the show,Daughtry howled at the crowd claiming that he “Did not know we had this many friends here in Syracuse. Damn, Ya’ll ready to have fun with us tonight? You ready to party with us?” Daughtry then led the crowd in clapping their hands as the band played “Feels Like Tonight.” Taking a quick breather after the song “Superman,” he shared with fans that the band was in the process of writing a new album and joked that the band didn’t have a new song yet to play for them, but all he knew was that it would be a rock album. Daughtry held the mic over the crowd several times as fans were singing along with him. Giving a shout out to his keyboardist, Elvio Fernandes, Daughtry shared that this local hometown hero was born and raised in Rochester. A very fan oriented musician, it was not a surprise when he called a fan to the stage to sign his guitar, and better yet, to have the entire band sign the guitar.
For fairgoers each year, there are tried and true exhibits, agriculture competitions, events, and food vendors one must visit to truly experience the fair. Whether it’s fried dough, wine slushies, rides, horse competitions, or the Indian Village, the Great NY State Fair has something for everyone’s taste. One of the new events that was most popular was the food truck contest. This event went over amazingly well as thousands took advantage of the $2 tasters all day long as the food trucks lined Chevy Court. From was peanut butter and jelly to meatballs, there was literally something for everyone. After a day long of tasting each purchase gave you an entry ticket to win prizes for both the taster and the food truck owner.
Literally thousands of new yorkers and tourists from beyond, visit the Great New York State Fair for 12 days at the end of summer, each year. Traditionally, the last day is reserved for the best deal, $1 admission. What appears to be the biggest day for attendance, has now become the busiest day for the Chevy Court. On Labor Day, Chicago entertained just over 30,000 people with a fantastic performance full of rocking guitar licks, heavy horn-playing, and soaring vocals. Beginning their 2-hour long set, the band embraced the stage for the first time in 26 years with an instrumental introduction before kicking off with “Questions 67 & 68” as “Dialogue (Part I & II)” followed. Throughout the whole show members took turns strutting their moves at the front of the stage, bringing fans deeper into their performance. Highlights of evening included their super hits, “Beginnings,” “Free,” “25 or 6 to 4,” and “Saturday in the Park” followed by a spectacular fireworks display at the front gate as attendees exited the fair for the last time.
Bruce Hornsby and The Noise Makers Setlist: On Western Skyline, Across the River, Funhouse, Tennessee Jed, Celestial Railroad, Pretty Polly, Every Little Kiss, Over the Rise, Jacob’s Ladder, Life in the Psychotropics, Mandolin Rain, The Way It Is, Encore: Rainbow’s Cadillac
Robert Cray Setlist: Chicken in the Kitchen, Poor Johnny, It Doesn’t Show, Nobody’s Fault but Mine, On the Road Down, Phone Booth, Two Steps From the End, Side Dish, Great Big Old House, I Shiver, Right Next Door (Because of Me), Strong Persuader, You Move Me. Encore: Time Makes Two
Daughtry Setlist: Go Down, Outta My Head, Feels Like Tonight, Waiting for Superman, Renegade, In the Air Tonight, Crazy, Tennessee Line, Home Sweet Home, Diamonds, It’s Not Over, Over You, Home, Long Live Rock & Roll. Encore: September, Purple Rain