All articles by Jessica Novak

Jazz in the City Takes Sides

The traveling music series Jazz in the City returns to Syracuse in August

A reinvigorated Jazz in the City returns on Thursday, Aug. 6, for its first stop at Syracuse’s South Side. The traveling music series, which features national and local jazz artists, is designed to reach urban residents by placing the free shows in their backyards. The four separate music programs will take place on Thursday nights in different parts of the Salt City.



Fests and Furious

Music writer Jessica Novak reports on this weekend’s Northeast Jazz and Wine Festival, which climaxes with Duke Robillard.

The 2015 edition of the Northeast Jazz and Wine Festival features much more than its name suggests. The event, first inaugurated as Jazz in the Square in 2002, has brought all types of jazz and soul to the stage. But this year’s expanded fest will include a variety of vibrations with a trio of themed days: Funky Friday on July 24, Jazz Saturday on July 25 and Blues Sunday on July 26.



Fab Four at Fest

Music writer Jessica Novak previews Jazz Fest outfit Lake Street Dive, which blends classic soul with sultry swing

In an era of Auto-Tune and bubble-gum pop, sugary image over solid substance, sometimes the masses get hungry for something more satisfying. And every once in a while a band comes around that can fill their bellies. This year, the 33rd annual M&T Syracuse Jazz Fest will feature one of those groups: Lake Street Dive, slated to perform Saturday, July 18, 7:45 p.m., at the Onondaga Community College campus.



Bring on the Blues

Blues Artists will perform at the annual New York State Blues Festival on Friday, July 10 and Saturday, July 11 in Clinton Square

The annual New York State Blues Festival returns to downtown Syracuse’s Clinton Square on Friday, July 10, and Saturday, July 11, with a schedule of local rockers and premier national talent. Spanning Los Blancos to Robert Randolph, this celebration of the blues brings all flavors to the stage. The event is free and open to the public.



Mark Hoffmann

Local guitar guru Mark Hoffmann reveals his rockin’ resume to music writer Jessica Novak

As a fixture of the Syracuse music scene for more than five decades, guitarist-vocalist Mark Hoffmann has been involved in major productions (such as the Salt City Waltz and Beatlecuse) and was inducted into the Syracuse Area Music Awards (Sammy) Hall of Fame in 2008. Yet his legacy goes far beyond the city limits.



Ann Wilson: Wild at Heart

Music writer Jessica Novak goes one-on-one with Ann Wilson of Heart prior to their June 30 performance at the Mulroy Civic Center

In the 1970s, a female-led band that sang, wrote and played their own songs was anything but common. But it didn’t stop the Wilson sisters, Ann and Nancy, from pursuing their dreams with their band Heart.



A Note-Worthy Endeavor

Writer Jessica Novak details the mission of Signature Music, which sends needy kids on new musical journeys

Every human on the planet is affected by music, for most of us on a daily basis. Yet music is still something that is often misunderstood. Music programs are often cut from school schedules. And viable job opportunities in composition, performance, music therapy, music industry, recording and theater are often overlooked when students are weighing their career options. Many people fail to realize how much time and money goes into preparing a student simply to audition for music school.



The Mo’ the Merrier

Music writer Jessica Novak chats with Keb’ Mo’, who will soon bring the blues to Syracuse

Hot on the trail of his 12th studio album, BLUESAmericana, Keb’ Mo’ is bringing his sound to Syracuse. The disc was nominated for Best Contemporary Blues Album at the 2015 Blues Music Awards and recently named one of the Top 100 Americana Albums of 2014 and Mo’ has been performing to support it over the past year.



Summer Times 2015: Music Fests

Jessica Novak covers what prominent music festivals are happening during the summer in Central New York.

Summertime music spots are plentiful in the Salt City and the surrounding area. Ranging from headliners like Robert Plant and The Black Keys to Aretha Franklin, there are lots of festivals to go around. Here are just a few:



Axes to Grind

The Guitar League, now in its 10th year, provides teachable moments for musicmakers

There aren’t many organizations that allow beginners and globe-touring artists to mix, mingle and learn from one another, let alone on a monthly basis. But for 10 years, the Guitar League has been providing guitarists of all levels exactly that opportunity.