Upstate New York will host one of the longest-running U.S. blues festivals when the 17th Annual Chenango Blues Festival takes place in Chenango, New York on Friday, August 21 and Saturday, August 22, 2009. The event is sponsored by the non-profit Chenango Blues Association, which strives to promote an appreciation of uniquely American music forms such as the blues, jazz, zydeco, and gospel music.
The yearly festival draws thousands of people from across the Northeast for a weekend of music, workshops, and art exhibits, and this year's event can boast of a robust line-up that includes a recent Blues Music Award winner, a bona-fide blues legend, and the founder and leading proponent of the style of acoustic blues known as "folk funk."
The 17th Annual Chenango Blues Festival
Friday night kicks off the festivities with the Australian bluesman known simply as Harper. The Blind Pig Records artist is a wizard on the harmonica, but Harper has also managed to incorporate elements of his native country's Aboriginal folk music tradition into his blues sound, utilizing the didgeridoo in the creation of a unique blues experience. Following Harper on Friday night are jump blues favorites Mitch Woods and His Rocket 88s. A veteran of better than two decades in the blues world, Woods is a piano-basher without peer. Best of all, admission to Friday's performance is free!
You'll have to pay to get in on Saturday, but blues fans will be treated with more energetic pianowork courtesy of Eden Brent, the 2009 Blues Music Award winner for "Acoustic Artist of the Year." Also appearing on the festival's Acoustic Stage is folk-funk originator, the great Bobby Rush. A multiple Blues Music Award winner, Rush is a dynamic live performer with a great voice that you'll want to witness on stage at least once in your life.
On the Main Stage Saturday, blues harp master Charlie Musselwhite will perform, the former Chicago blues veteran and long-time Bay Area bluesman bringing his gritty Delta-inspired sound to Upstate New York. Following Musselwhite, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings will hit the stage with their good-time R&B party rave-up. Other artists performing at the 17th Annual Chenango Blues Festival include:
- Thistle Dew
- Chris Cain
- Honey Island Swamp Band
Blues harpist Charlie Musselwhite rose out of the Chicago blues scene of the 1960s and, along with Paul Butterfield, helped bring blues music to a young white audience. His move to Northern California late in the decade brought his blues to the children of flower-power and, in the decades since, the artist has been an effective ambassador for blues music. More than anything, however, Musselwhite has helped expand the stylistic barriers of the blues, bringing elements of jazz, Tex-Mex, and even world music into his traditional mix of Delta and Chicago blues styles.
Flamboyant soul-blues artist Bobby Rush is in his sixth decade of a musical career that has come full circle from rural Louisiana, through the mean streets of Chicago, to the Southern musical mecca of Jackson, Mississippi. A dynamic showman with a unique sound that mixes the natural soul of vintage R&B with traditional Chicago blues and strutting 1970s-styled funk, Rush's booty-shaking "snake dancers" and frequent costume changes have helped make his live shows popular with club and festival audiences alike.
Check with the Chenango Blues Festival website for more details on ticket availability, performance schedules, and updated line-up information.