After a 2013 hiatus, the New York State Blues Festival is back and under the direction of former fest planner Jim Murphy. The two-day event will retake its 2012 home of Clinton Square, bringing a solid mix of local, national and international names. Here are a few 2014 Blues Fest favorites:
Friday, July 18, 6:15 p.m.
Musical start: Rawls learned from his grandfather, who played blues guitar.
Resume highlight: Rawls was O.V. Wright’s band director in the 1970s.
Debut album: His solo CD Here We Go, released in 1996.
Press: In April 2002, Rawls was on the cover of Living Blues magazine.
Awards: Nominated four times for the W.C. Handy Award as well as 12 times for Blues Music Awards.
Today: Rawls tours heavily, including regular stops locally at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.
Friday, July 18, 7:45 p.m.
Real name: Theodore Joseph “Ted” Horowitz
From: New York City
Musical start: He began on drums and was inspired to pick up guitar after hearing the Rolling Stones.
Sounds like: “The Stooges meets Buddy Guy, Motörhead meets Muddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix meets Robert Johnson.”
Debut album: It’s Chubby Time, released in 1994
In his own words: “Since I’d grown up on Hendrix, Cream and Led Zeppelin, when I started playing blues in New York clubs I understood that the blues should be dangerous, too. It wasn’t just from playing in punk bands. Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters were dangerous men. They’d cut or shoot you if they thought it was necessary, and Little Walter packed a gun and wouldn’t hesitate to use it. That danger is a real part of the blues and I keep it alive in my music.”
Trampled Under Foot
Saturday, July 19, 4:30 p.m.
From: Kansas City, Mo.
Musical start: Siblings Danielle and Nick Schnebelen grew up under blues-loving parents. Originally, the trio also included brother Kris Schnebelen.
Awards: Several Blues Music Awards nominations; Blues Matters (U.K.) Writers Poll winners; Grand Blues Society Performers of the Year in 2009; Pitch Music Awards Best Blues Band in 2009 and more.
Debut album: Trampled Under Foot, released in 2006
Must see: The 2012 DVD documentary From the Emporium to the Orpheum.
Saturday, July 19, 6 p.m.
From: Brooklyn, but raised in Switzerland
Home is where the heart is: S’Aida has been extremely active in the Toronto music scene.
Awards: 2013 Juno Awards nominee for Best Blues Album; 2013 Blues Music Awards nominee for Contemporary Female Artist of the Year; 2013 Indie Awards Nominee for Blues Artist of the Year.
Debut album: Blueprint, released in 2008
Worldly woman: Aside from the United States, S’Aida has performed in the Caribbean, Moscow, Dubai, Romania, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Austria, Italy, Germany, Face, Macedonia and more within the past few years alone.
Saturday, July 19, 7:45 p.m.
Full house: Fuchs is the youngest of six children.
Big break: She starred as Sadie in the 2007 Beatles-inspired film Across the Universe.
Debut album: Lonely for a Lifetime, released in 2003.
Comparison compliments: Her big voice and wild stage presence have often led her to comparisons to Janis Joplin. Appropriately, Fuchs starred in the off-Broadway hit musical Love, Janis, a role that caught the attention of the makers of Across the Universe.
Blues Fest Lineup:
Friday, July 18
Dr. Killdean, 4 p.m.
Colin Aberdeen and the Barking Loungers, 5 p.m.
Johnny Rawls, 6:15 p.m.
Popa Chubby, 7:45 p.m.
Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 19
Signature Student Band, 1 p.m.
The Ripcords, 2 p.m.
Carolyn Kelly Blues Band, 3:15 p.m.
Trampled Under Foot, 4:30 p.m.
Shakura S’Aida, 6 p.m.
Dana Fuchs, 7:45 p.m.
Mark Hummel and the Golden State-Lone Star Revue, 9:30 p.m.
More information is available at nysbluesfest.com.