NORWICH – The 14th edition of the Chenango Blues Festival has a decidedly Gulf Coast feel, and that is no accident according to Blues Association President Eric Larsen. “After viewing all the hurricane damage in the region we thought it would be a great idea to showcase some of the many musical styles that have their origins in that area. We wanted to highlight how important the area from Austin to the Mississippi hill country has been in the development of American music. From rhythm and blues to zydeco, from delta blues to boogie woogie piano – it all comes back to the Gulf Coast.”
Two artists appearing at the festival suffered substantial flooding and lost almost everything, so this is an opportunity to get their music back out there and bring attention to their talent.
Headlining this year is an artist long sought by festival organizers – the incomparable Marcia Ball. She has been nominated for three Grammys and has won three consecutive W.C. Handy Awards for piano player of the year. Marcia plays an infectious, intelligent and deeply emotional brand of Southern boogie and rollicking roadhouse blues. “We’ve been trying to get her here four or five years running, but she’s in such demand it’s been hard to work out – we’re excited to finally be able to present her this year” says Greg Grosvenor, a representative of the talent selection committee.
Tab Benoit precedes Marcia Ball on the main stage. Hailing from Houma, Louisiana, Tab grew up playing with Louisiana legends like Tabby Thomas and Henry Gray. He has long maintained a commitment to his Cajun roots and a good old fashioned bayou backbeat while also exploring traditional country and vintage R & B. Several of his recent recordings have featured songs about Louisiana’s bayous and coastal areas and he has long been active in Voice of the Wetlands – a group dedicated to saving these threatened environments. Organizers of the festival will be conducting a raffle of a signed guitar this year and the proceeds of the raffle will be donated to this worthy cause.