21st Manpower Chenango Blues Fest looks forward and back

NORWICH – It’s hard to say which is better: seeing an old returning friend or meeting a brand new talented one.

At this year’s Chenango Blues Fest you’ll get the best of both worlds. Returning after a too long hiatus will be a festival favorite from the murky past: Larry McCray. In 1996 he was practically a kid, as he is considered now to be part of the new wave of talented blues-rock players that crosses boundaries. It will be great to see what he brings to the Sheffield Bio Science Infield Stage almost twenty years later.

After Larry will be 2012 Grammy nominee, Shemekia Copeland, a returning festival headliner from 2003. She was a great performer then and she has only gotten better. Shemekia has since opened for the Rolling Stones and played at the White House for the President. The reigning Queen of the Blues is a passionate performer with a blast furnace voice.

Also back, but after a much shorter hiatus, will be newer festival favorites, the Honey Island Swamp Band. Their music has been described as “Bayou Americana” because it draws influences from roots artists ranging from Johnny Cash to Taj Mahal. With a stellar rhythm section and two song writing frontmen, they are practically the house band of the festival with this being their third appearance in five years. You only get to do that if you’re really good – they are the only group in 21 years to be so honored.

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