The blues will be headed to the West Side Saturday when a lineup of the genre’s most inventive recording artists perform at the annual Hudson River Park's Blues BBQ festival.
The Blues BBQ has been wailing on the banks of the Hudson, alternating venues between Hudson River Park’s Pier 54 and 84, for the past 12 years.
Completely free, and staffed with some of the city’s best BBQ vendors, the festival has become a destination event in the area. Just last year the BBQ attracted more than 10,000 music -- and food -- lovers.
“There is just something really American, and really primal, and really accessible about blues music,” said Lew Siris, the show's producer and organizer.
This year continues what Siris called “a slow evolution” in the performer lineup of the long running series. For more than a decade, the festival was dedicated to showcasing traditional 12-bar blues. It has since opened up to a broader array of artists.
“We realized that we can’t just have Chicago or Memphis blues, people want other kinds of music as well,” said Siris. “The last few years we have really loosened things up.”
That means blues-inspired artists like The Bo-Keys, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Curtis Salgado, Demetria Taylor and Glen David Andrews will take turns on the stage at Pier 84.
Salgado is known as more of a soulful R&B artist, than as a traditional bluesman; the Bo-Keys sound like the back-up band for Otis Redding, not B.B. King.
Andrews and his four piece band said they bring New Orleans flair to their variation of the Blues.
“I grew up around blues all my life,” said Andrews, “So while we really give a show that is New Orleans, and is Gospel…the Blues naturally influence everything we do.”
Siris said that it is these new influences and inputs that make the BBQ so exciting this year. With each of these performances the foundation of blues is clearly on display, but also built upon in some distinct way.
“We have a very loyal following that come back year after year,” he said, “but we want people to try it out to expand their own musical taste.”
The Blues BBQ is just one of over 130 free summer events sponsored by the Hudson River Park. It is free and kicks off Saturday, August 25 at 2 pm on Pier 84.