NORWICH – For a second straight year, the Chenango Blues Fest drew record numbers to the county fairgrounds, where festival-goers were once again treated to an all-star lineup.
Nearly 3,000 people made their way to this year’s event, which featured some of the genre’s best in talent, from the acoustic, country-blues stylings of Doug MacLeod, Super Chikan and John Hammond to the scorching electric guitar of Ana Popovic and musical virtuosity of the North Mississippi All Star Duo.
Guitarist Tas Cru – followed by harmonica player Pierre Lacocque and Mississippi Heat – kicked-started the 19th annual Chenango Blues Fest with a pair of powerful sets on Friday, the latter a brilliant treatment of traditional, Chicago blues. Friday night’s show also saw a record number of people in attendance, according to members of the Chenango Blues Association.
“We had approximately 1,500 people on Friday and 3,000 on Saturday, which are both records for the festival,” reported Eric Larsen, who heads up the association. “We’ve broken attendance records two years running. It’s constantly growing and it’s a little better and a little bigger every year.”
Fellow association member Eric Miles agreed and said the festival was “good from start to finish.” All in all, he added, there was a “a lot of variety” throughout the day.
Pennsylvania-based Gina Sicilia was first to hit the Sheffield Bio Science main stage on Saturday. Her powerful vocals, backed by an extremely tight group of veteran players, set the bar high as the festival’s opening act. Local blues-rockers The Suspicious Hats followed, performing on the Nelson and Flanagan Grouse Ridge Kennels acoustic stage and featuring Tim and Nick Andrews on guitar and drums respectively, Todd Rutan on banjo and bassist Nate Collins.