NORWICH – Norwich’s new East Side Park performance stage will host a diverse slate of nationally recognized artists this summer, so make your plans now to gather up your family and friends to meet in the heart of downtown for some great music.
It bears underlining that every one of these shows is free for everyone, which is remarkable given the level of talent that is being presented.
The first concert will be Thursday, July 12 and it features Royal Southern Brotherhood – a brand new all-star band that has the likes of Devon Allman, Cyril Neville and Mike Zito among its numbers.
Between them, the band has performed in groups ranging from Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson to the Derek Trucks Band and Allman Brothers. It’s white hot blues rock at its very best.
Next up in the Free Thursday series on July 19 is a big change of pace with Alex Torres and His Latin Orchestra. They play an original blend of Afro-Caribbean rhythms such as Salsa, Merengue, Bomba and Latin Jazz. The eleven piece big band will be a treat on the big new performance stage.
The third show is a style not yet presented as part of the Free Thursdays – Sacred Steel. The Campbell Brothers have an over two decade tradition in the style that originated as the worship music of House of God Keith Dominion Church. It is music both reverent and rocking, and it has inspired newer followers like Robert Randolph. If you haven’t experienced this high energy combination of gospel singing and pedal steel guitar you owe it to yourself to see it live on Thursday, July 26.
Closing out the Thursday shows on Aug. 2 is a performance that has become a tradition of the series: The New Riders of the Purple Sage. Their past shows have been a huge hit with local audiences, and the band considers their stops in Norwich to be among the annual highlights of their summer tours. The opportunities to hear their legendary brand of country rock grow fewer, so you won’t want to miss David Nelson, Buddy Cage and friends add to their repertoire of great Chenango County performances.
The free shows don’t stop there either. Tuesday, Aug. 7 is the opening day of the Chenango County Fair and it’s free admission day at the Fairgrounds. The Chenango Blues Association always likes to support their friends at the Fair Association by sponsoring a show in the big entertainment tent, and this year’s artist is none other than Grammy Award winning, Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience.
Terrance has toured over forty countries around the world in this twenty five year career as an ambassador of the accordion driven music of Southwest Louisiana. Terrance is famous for fusing many musical influences into a world music stew that will propel you out of your seat and onto the dance floor. All the shows have been made possible through the generous support of NBT Bank and several Chenango County Foundations. All the Thursday shows start at 7 p.m. and the Tuesday show at the Fair starts at 7:30 p.m.
There is more fun to be had in Norwich, too. The Chenango Blues Association is establishing a new festival that is hoped will become an annual event. Summer Jam will be held on Sunday, July 29 from 2 till around 8 p.m. in East Side Park. The inaugural event will be headlined by reggae and roots band, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and New Orleans funk stars, Big Sams Funky Nation. A couple outstanding regional bands, Tumbleweed Highway and Woodshed Prophets are also on the bill. Appearing between main stage performances will be the eclectic New York City based musician, Isto. The whole thing is free for everyone due to the generosity of Preferred Mutual Insurance and Wells Fargo Advisors, along with support from Chenango County Council of the Arts Decentralization Program.
Don’t forget that the 20th Manpower Chenango Blues Festival is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 17 and Saturday, Aug. 18 at the Chenango County Fairgrounds. Headliners include JJ Grey and Mofro, Voice of the Wetlands All Stars, Duke Robillard, Papa Grows Funk and Anders Osborne among others.
Details on all the events can be found at www.chenangobluesfest.org.