Southampton Press RBF Article

back to Photo Gallery - Riverhead Blues Festival

Southampton Press


The Outliers with Tom Gahan

July 17, 2003
Blues Festival Is Back,
Bigger Than Ever
A new venue, light shows, big video screens and art show are added to annual event
By Pat Rogers
     If fans of the Riverhead Blues Festival thought the free three-day concert couldn't get any bigger or offer any more than it has in the last four years, they'll have to think again. Among other enhancements, this year's festival has an additional second indoor venue - bumping the number of stages from three to four - allowing even more bands and music to be included in the free event.
     This year, Riverhead's skyline will be illuminated with light shows on Friday and Saturday nights that feature an array of laser lights and special lighting effects. The light show is courtesy of World Illumination of Plainview, which specializes in custom-design lighting and staging. Also new will be large projection screens that will capture the festival scene via a real-time, live video feed, which is expected to add to the prevailing atmosphere of fun for attendees and musicians alike.
     "People expect more than music when they come to see band," says festival founder and producer Thomas Gahan. "They also want to be entertained. The light show and projection screens are part of that. It helps make sure that 54,000 are happy. It also makes the festival a little more theatrical, which appeals to the P.T. Barnum in me."
     As in years past, amusement rides will be on site and the traveling Jimi Hendrix Interactive Museum will return for another appearance. Musical workshops will be held and so will after-festival jams at area nightspots. A "Kids' Jam" that brings musicians under 18 on stage with an adult blues mentor will be held Saturday afternoon.
     The year-old Blue Door Gallery is holding an art exhibition with a blues performance theme, "The Blues at the Blue Door." The show takes up about half the gallery's exhibition space and features around seven artists or photographers. The gallery is located a stone's throw away from the msuical action in Flower Alley off East Main Street.
     Four stages with different agendas will collectively feature around 50 bands over the three-day festival. The Keyspan Energy Stage features rollicking electric acts that includes the Todd Wolfe Blues Project, the Kerry Kearney Band, Cadillac Moon and the Hackensack Men & the Trenton Horns. Also appearing is Harper from Australia, Lazy Lester, a traditional bluesman from Louisiana who's toured the world, the VooDUDE's, a New Jersey band with a New Orleans sound, and more. The stage is located in the parking lot behind East Main Street, along the Peconic waterfront.
     A little further afield, located on West Main Street, is the Suffolk County National Bank Acoustic Stage, where acoustic instruments are featured. Some acts that will take this stage are Little Toby Walker, The Mudcats, Phil Varca & the Slam Jammers and more.
     The indoor venues are the former Vision Theater on East Main Street and the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, located on Peconic Avenue. This is the first year the recently renovated historic opera hall is serving as a blues venue.
     Groups appearing at the former Vision Theater - now run by the Riverhead Incubator for The Arts - are the East River Blues Band, Gary Sellers, and Hot Tin Roof. The Vail-Leavitt Music Hall will host Kane Daily, David Isaacs, Cathy Kreger and others. Some groups will appear on more than one stage. A schedule and information can be found at the festival's website, www.riverheadblues,com.
     Mr. Gahan explained that the free festival aims to provide fun for families and singles alike, while never losing sight of the main reason the multi-day continual concert began - to acquaint the interested with the broad spectrum of music that makes up the blues.
     "There's a lot of people who think the blues is only one type of music, and that isn't true," Mr. Gahan said. "There's different categories within the blues. There's funk blues, rock blues, gospel blues, country blues and the Delta blues that most people think of as the blues. Almost everyone should be able to find some kind of music that they like."
     The musical lineup is a blend of band that have formerly appeared at the Riverhead Blues Festival and newcomers. To help ensure the event is not mearly the same concert plunked into a new year, bands are eligible to participate only two years in a row and must take a year off before reapplying.
     One of the first-time groups is the Stanton Anderson Band - who made their name in the 1970s and are reuniting many of the original 10 members of the band. Another is the Huntington-based "jump blues and acoustic rock band", The Outliers. The group performs at nightclubs on Long Island, including Digger O'Dell's in Riverhead, the Old Speonk Inn in Speonk, and Chesterfield's in Huntington.
     In a brief group interview, several members of the band said they were looking forward to taking the stage before the large crowds the Riverhead Blues Festival typically draws. Last year drew around 54,000 people over the three-day event.
     "Music is interactive and there are tiers of clubs and events you try to play," Mr. Rubinson said. "The better the gig, the better the crowd. We expect that the Riverhead Blues Festival will be the mother of all crowds. We're really psyched to be playing."
     That same exceitement about appearing in the annual festival eas expressed in a separate interview by returning musician Joe Vicino of Joe Vicino and the Smokedaddies. The Babylon-based group played the festival for two years. They did not appear last year because of the festival's two-year rule.
     "We're very excited to be playing again," Mr. Vicino said. "The Riverhead Blues Festival is becoming a prestigious thing for fans of the blues. If you say that you've played at the Riverhead Blues Festival, it means something. You don't always get to play in front of a crowd like the one at the festival - it's a very different experience and anything can happen. Most of the time, we play in clubs and when you look out, there's 20 eyes looking back at you. At the Riverhead Blues Festival, we've had 10,000 eyes looking at you. I really enjoy it. It's a lot of fun."

Home  |  Gigs  |  Profiles  |  History  |  An Outlier?

Photos  |  Songs  |  Download/Listen  |  Outlier Sound  |  Jamming

Links  |  Humor  |  Quotes  |  Join Mailing List  |  Book The Band  |  E-Mail Us

The Outliers Logo

©2003 - The Outliers