Under rain-free skies, the 17th annual Chenango Blues Fest in Norwich, NY, kicked off Friday, August 21 with headliner Mitch Woods and his Rocket 88′s. Saturday’s all-day events bounced between the Main Stage and the Acoustic Stage tent located at the other end of the Chenango County Fairgrounds.
The New Orleans blues-rock sounds of the Honey Island Swamp Band kicked things off on Saturday, followed by Australian wild-man, singer, harp-man and didgeridoo rumbler Harper and his group.
Young and sexy, New Orleans-based Eden Brent fired up the standing-room-only audience in the Acoustic Stage Tent with her honky-tonk styled piano playing and her husky, emotionally charged voice. As her set ended, the distant sound of Chris Cain‘s muscular and melodious guitar lines beckoned the crowd back to the Main Stage where Cain and his band delivered their explosive blues soulfully and honestly.
Many who were there at Chenango remembered soul-singer superb Bobby Rush‘s previous festival visit a few years ago on the Main Stage fronting a full band. Some wondered how the 78-year-old legend would sound all by himself with just his guitar for accompaniment. Rush delivered a vibrant performance of originals mixed with classics, leaving the audience wanting more.
Harmonica virtuoso Charlie Musselwhite and his band launched their rock-tinged boogie-blues set with 25-year-old guitarmonster Matthew Stubbs trading tasteful licks on his axe with Musselwhite’s harmonica wails, cries, whispers and howls.
Rhythm and blues belter Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings closed the festival with their explosive sound, filling the festival with a revved-up, locked-down amalgam of horns, guitar solos and Jones’ knock-your-socks-off vocals.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk. You can see more of Andrzej’s photos from this day on the Nippertown Flickr page.