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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Concert Review: Chenango Blues Fest with Robert Randolph

What: Concert Review
Who: Chenango Blues Festival
Where: Norwich, NY
When: August 16, 2014
Chenango Blues Fest 2014

For more than 21 years, the Chenango Blues Festival has been rocking the community of Norwich, NY. Now the annual festival has returned promising great blues across two stages at the Chenango County fairgrounds and racetrack for the 2014 event. The setting is a small town set in rural Upstate NY with the nearest cities being Binghamton and Syracuse, both over an hour away from its scenic location.
Despite unfortunate down pouring rain which drenched the crowd during Randolph's set, experiencing the small festival for the first time was unique and fun. The festival provided great food & hospitality as pumped up blues fans who were ready to listen to some great music no matter what the incoming weather.
During the afternoon and early evening there were several thousand people that flocked to the festival grounds which consisted of over a dozen vendors, both including local arts and food for the area. A main stage was set up and there was also a smaller tent where people set up lawn chairs as well to listen to the performs who played their.
One of these performers that played at the small stage before Randolph was the Cedric Burnside Project.
These African American gentlemen were fantastic and knew how to play the blues and get the crowd up front dancing and swaying back and forth to their catchy and power driven sound. For being only two people in the band, they were great, and the drummer, who was also the lead singer and son of R.L. Burnside was at the top of his game. They sounded great and that southern blues style was a perfect recipe for Randolph. Even Samantha Fish, who played at the festival earlier that day and is influenced by Fat Bottom records, was up front dancing with the crowd and singing along to every one of Cedric Burnside's tunes, which consisted a lot of music his father wrote.
Shortly after their performance, Randolph came on stage to an unfortunate chilly and down pouring rain. Despite this, people still came up front and danced, and it was great to see blues fans coming out to his show and enjoying themselves as they battled the weather, becoming completely soaked by the end of the night.
Randolph was great as usual, and if anyone has ever been to a RR show, one will know he's a great entertainer as well as phenomenal pedal guitarist. However, there were some sound problems in his set. Throughout most of his set you could hardly hear his vocals except in the beginning and at the end which was a bit if a disappointment. The set list this time included many songs Randolph doesn't usually cover live, which is a good thing, as well as some top notch covers. He did an amazing job on Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze that probably couldn't have been done any better at that moment as rain continued to fall on the crowd.
Overall, Randolph did a good job and his guitar playing was good as always.
The Chenango Blues Festival is a great festival with a fantastic setting and spirit, and hopefully next year, they will have some better weather on their biggest night.

Grade: overall: B+ or A-
Cedric Burnside Project: A-
Robert Randolph & The Family Band: B+

Photos by Leo Pareti & Tom Hutchinson:
Cedric Burnside Project:

 Robert Randolph:

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