NORWICH – It is with a great deal of sadness that organizers of the Chenango Blues Festival announce the postponement of this year’s NBT Bank Free Thursdays concert series, originally scheduled for July and August.
The series has become a staple of summer evenings in downtown Norwich, drawing thousands of attendees to shows featuring nationally touring artists.
Also postponed is the Preferred Mutual Chenango Blues Festival, making it the first time in twenty-eight years that the Chenango Blues Association has not presented a show. Issues around the COVID-19 virus made planning and hosting the events impossible. Without the ability to ensure the safety of artists, volunteers and music fans the volunteers who organize and run all the events could not in good conscience move forward.
“We were all incredibly disappointed to have to pull the plug on all this year’s concerts” said Eric Larsen, the group’s President, “but we really had no choice given the risks large gatherings pose. We are grateful for the ongoing support of NBT Bank, the R. C. Smith Foundation and the Greater Norwich Foundation for the Free Thursdays and Preferred Mutual for the Blues Fest. With their support, and the support of all the great music fans who attend the events we will be back bigger and better than ever next year.”
The Chenango Blues Association has been working with artists scheduled for this year’s concerts and the festival to rebook them for next year. Festival artists were to include Jimmie Vaughan, Kingfish Ingram, Mr. Sipp and Doug MacLeod, among others. Free Thursdays artists were to include Asleep at the Wheel, Shemekia Copeland, Tuba Skinny, The Garcia Project and Shinyribs. So far about three-quarters of the artists have agreed to reschedule for next year with more pending. “We thought it was our strongest lineup, top to bottom, ever” said Steve Palmatier, “so we are very excited it looks like most, if not all, of them will be back. These shows definitely mean as much to the artists as they do the fans.”
The Chenango Blues Association is an all-volunteer run group with no paid staff. Most of their events are free for everyone because of the generous support they receive from foundations, businesses and individuals. Information on all the events can be found on the group’s website at www.chenangobluesfest.org.