Well here I sit, recovered from another exhilarating Blues festival in Norwich, NY. In it’s 19th year of all volunteer festival sponsorship Eric Larsen & crew shows what can be accomplished when activism and dedication take to the front.
Starting in 2003 with headliners Anson Funderberg and Sam Meyers, thru 2003 featuring Shemekia Copeland, Guy Davis, and Little Charlie & The Nightcats up to the present day with Doug MacLeod, John Hammond, Ana Popovic, and NMAS Duo, the Chenango Blues Festival consistently puts out great shows, and always has the Friday of festival weekend free for the community. THANK YOU !
My top five (OK I’m gonna try this again): No I won’t, everyone was so damn good…..
#1: Ana Popovic
Just a strong performance. Ana and band ripped her way through the set as if they were possessed. the temperature of the infield stage and area went up several degrees as she hit the stage with such a jolt that the crowd looked like they were not quite ready for what she was bringing. A dear lady who is talented and kind and proving her worth as a blues lady !
#1: James Cotton Band
What ! I must be crazy. Well I did see them two weeks ago in Delaware, so. But again they are so professional, dynamic, and thrilling to watch. Each of these guys could front a band of their own (and some have and still do). Mr. Cotton was very much right on again, harp playing beyond what anyone could expect, he rightly holds on to the title of Superharp. I cannot say enough about how good the band is.
#1: Mississippi Heat
Goodness gracious, what a wall of sound and energy from this Chi-town based International collection of artists. Mr. Pierre Lacoque (harp) and Ms. Inetta Visor are as good a duo as one can find. Yikes they blew away the crowd Friday night – for free !
#1: Tas Cru
A shout out to one of the most interesting songwriters around. With his full band he charmed the audience and proved he is more than just a clever songwriter, he is a true bluesman. Great free show on Friday with a full band and sweet toned ladies on vocals!
Funky, Louisiana swamp boogie music is this bands specialty, and they do it damn well. Their appeal crosses over from generation to generation, with guitar driven grooves and some of the funkiest rhythm from drums, bass, and keys you got a gumbo of good times. People, check them out.
#1: Gina Sicilia
A dynamic up and coming singer song-writer, Ms. Sicilia has grown immensely in her chosen field over the last few years. Her releases capture the passion and soul of her live performances as well as any out there. Joined by Dave Gross, who plays anything ever made, and is also a fine producer, and the best travelling rhythm pocket (Tom Papadatos on drums and Scot Hornick on bass).
Mr. Hammond was electric, no not in the plugged in sense, but in the field of energy way. His guitar playing, singing and harmonica work wowed the crowd, who screamed for an encore. His stories behind the songs were wonderful insights into this legend and his travels on the Blues Highway. Goodness, he was just grand.
#1 North Mississippi All-Star Duo
Brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson brought the music of the North Mississippi to the hills of Central New York State. It was visceral, intriguing, and were fun to see. Young folks flocked in to see them, and by doing so, either knowingly or unknowingly, are now exposed to the Blues and will be lifelong fans. Great to see these two young men do their thing. They closed out the show and left us all excited for next year’s 20th anniversary.
#1: James ‘Super Chikan’ Johnson I have seen Supe many times before, but not as a solo act. He was wonderful. His ability to turn the tent stage into his front porch with stories, tales, anecdotes and just good sippie-seekan-saw music was a treat for everyone, plus his hand made guitars are true American folk art.
Doug played three times (at least) that weekend. Once for the Veterans, once for the community at the Library, and once in the tent stage. there were many folks who saw all three and they never tired of his story telling, songwriting skills and musical ability to make a venue small and intimate. His message of hope and the positive life-affirming val;ue of the Blues was well received by everyone there. His genuine love and beliefs seamlessly float from him to the audience and we all leave remembering to pack our sense of humor first thing in the morning. If I have to pick a true #1 it would be Mr. MacLeod (as would many others). Thank you, ‘Dub-las’
A special shout out to Suspicious Hats, the one local band. They opened up the tent stage on Saturday. Comprised of Todd Rutan, Tim Andrews Nick Andrews and Nate Collins brought a relaxed congenial vibe to us all.
We have a good selection of photos (145 or so) from this fest, to see them go to:
Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
photos: Courtesy of Leslie K. Joseph