New York State Blues Festival back with big lineup

Dana Fuchs will belt out the blues in Syracuse. (From press kit)

Dana Fuchs will belt out the blues in Syracuse. (From press kit)

After a year off to retune the organization and format, the New York State Blues Festival has announced a big and impressive lineup for a two-day return, July 18 and 19 in Clinton Square in Syracuse.

Media relations representative Julie Briggs sent out the list of performers today.

Coming to play the free-admission event in the middle of downtown Syracuse will be electric blues guitarist Popa Chubby, blues rock singer-songwriter Dana Fuchs, blues quartet Trampled Underfoot, jump-boogie band Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers, southern soul guitarist Johnny Rawls, harp blower Mark Hummel and soulful Canadian singer Shakura S’Aida.

Syracuse’s longstanding blues scene will be represented by The Carolyn Kelly Blues Band, Colin Aberdeen & The Barking Loungers, Dr. Kildean, and The Ripcords.

This will be the 22nd edition of the event. It marks the return of Jim Murphy as director.

Murphy founded the first festival, which combined free outdoor stages and paid shows in downtown clubs and The Hotel Syracuse.

The free portion of the event set up stages in various locations over the years, including in Armory Square and in front of Syracuse City Hall as well as City Hall.

Murphy moved from Syracuse to El Paso, and he is directing the return of the event while still living in Texas.

In 2011, the event had excellent attendance in a one-year-stand at the Syracuse Inner Harbor.

But suffering from falling sponsorship in the challenging economy, the fest sold tickets for the Clinton Square event in 2012. After losing money, fest director Todd Fitzsimmons left that position but kept ties with the event. Murphy agreed to spearhead the return this summer.

Many of the bands played at the Syracuse event in the years before Murphy left for El Paso.

“We are all excited to bring this caliber of entertainmeht to the 22nd New York State Blues Festival,” Murphy said in Briggs’ news release. “The board of directors is working extremely hard to make this year’s blues festival one to remember. We are incredibly grateful to the individuals and businesses who have come forward offering their support, and we are especially indebted to the city of Syracuse for making this year’s festival possible.

“We encourage everyone to put on their dancing shoes and join us for two days of great music throughout the downtown district,” Murphy said.

More details will be announced as the festival dates approach.

21 thoughts on “New York State Blues Festival back with big lineup

  1. You are so lucky Mark. We have a lot of festivals, including a Bluegrass Fest, but nothing is free here. We have a multimillion dollar River Front Park to pay for, so price hikes for everything. I think there may even be a tax on sneezing in the park now. No more free lunches — and after last Friday, that includes catfish, LOL.


  2. I would like to go to the July New York State Blues Fest!! Great lineup, Mark! I wish I could but may someday another year. I have two weeks planned out, both at my Mom’s senior apartment in Cleveland. We have our own quieter celebrations but she loves music and since one of the weeks in July 4th we will hear a band or two! Smiles, Robin


    • It is pretty great to bring your portable chair in a bag and see such talented bands for free here, Robin. I used to have to review every single one of them on the main stage, from noon to 11 p.m. In July it would get hot, sitting the chair on pavement. Luckily, the newspaper office was on the same block and I’d run into the air conditioning during set breaks and write the band that had just finished up. That was my work life for 21 years as music critic. Busy, challenging, kind of fun.


      • I guess I knew a little bit about your ‘past life’ but did not realize this was how it went. Glad for the details, thanks, Mark for this personal walk through those 21 years… I know you started due to the loss of the job, but did not realize how it was as a music critic. I always think of you as an entertainment or popular culture kind of guy. I did remember the awards ceremony where you were featured. Thought that you are still very well respected in your ‘industry.’ I will close for now, I natter on too much! Smiles, Robin


      • Thank you for the kind words, Robin. There are never too many of those. People around here do still appreciate my writings about the local music scene, you are correct about that.


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