By Stefan Oliva Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News) – The New York State Blues Festival will be back for its 26th anniversary from Thursday to Saturday with 22 acts and a headliner each night.
The main attractions this time around will be the two sister band Larkin Poe, who are both descendants of the famous poet Edgar Allen Poe, Paulie Cerra and Anders Osborne, who headlined in 2012. Festival organizers are excited about the eclectic mix of big name bands this year.
“Larkin Poe is edgy and they’re a mix of blues and rock,” Blues Festival director Eric McElveen said. “We want to tap into a potential younger audience and the happy-hour crowd because I think that group hasn’t been tapped into.”
He also said Cerra is very well known by the Central New York community and traditional blues fans will come out in big numbers to see him.
“In my opinion, Anders Osborne is the greatest current blues artist and it’s an honor to present him,” McElveen said. “He should be a lot more famous than he is.”
McElveen said the event has been financially steady for the past few years and their budget this year is about $130,000. Since the festival is free, a big chunk of the money they make comes from alcohol sales, which brings in about $40,000 per year. The rest of their money comes from grants and sponsorships.
“Our goal is to make the event similar to the Rochester International Jazz Festival,” McElveen said. ” We also want to make it more of a tourist destination. Syracuse is great because of its central location and downtown amenities.”
He said people getting together is the main goal of the event.
“Having an emotional connection to the music is really important and it transcends different things” McElveen said.
In past years, other notable Blues Festival performers include Buddy Guy, Robert Cray and Bo Diddley.