SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – It’s time to get groovy once again. The New York State Blues Festival returns to Syracuse this week.
Running from Thursday, June 16 to Saturday, June 18, the 30th edition of the festival takes place at Chevy Court on the New York State Fairgrounds.
As to what Central New Yorkers can expect at the event, Eric McElveen, the festival’s executive director, sees it as a fun time for all.
“A lot of good vibes as they say, a lot of happiness,” McElveen explained. “A lot of great music of course, there’s wonderful food vendors here and some craft vendors as well.”
The Blues festival began in the summer of 1992, building off of an already rich blues community calling Central New York home. The event featured talented local musicians in downtown Syracuse’s Armory Square, as well as live music inside the historic Hotel Syracuse. Now known as one of the largest free blues events in the Northeast, the three-day musical celebration showcases a collection of regional and national artists from multiple genres.
With rain holding off bigger crowds on Thursday evening, the festival’s secretary and vendor director, Babette Puzey, still didn’t seem worried about attendance numbers.
“Blues is a really big part of the Central New York community,” Puzey said. “A lot of people really look forward to this event.”
Along with the music, the festival has a strong emphasis on supporting blues in the local Central New York community. This is seen most notably in local schools, as a Blues in Schools program was recently started by the festival as a way to integrate blues terminology, techniques, and ideas into the regular school curriculum.
Another part of that emphasis includes the the KJ James memorial scholarship, given out to local promising musicians in honor of James, who was known as the father of the blues scene in Syracuse. James is known for starting the area’s very first blues festival on Burnet Avenue. James played with the band, Triple Shot, then formed Dr. Blue and the Kingsnakes, who toured nationally, before going solo as Dr. Blue.
“It really does help out upcoming musicians,” McElveen said. “Not only just with the monetary part but I think the energy and the connection and the network that comes with gaining such award.”
The festival’s last act on Friday will take the stage at 9:30 p.m., and the music will start back up on Saturday at 1 p.m.. Admission is free.