Now a long way from her 2002 triumph on American Idol (as well as putting distance away from her movie turkey From Justin to Kelly), popular songbird Kelly Clarkson inaugurates this year’s Grandstand lineup on Thursday, Aug. 27, 7:30 p.m. (Tickets run $35 to $40.) Opening the show will be Gavin DeGraw, who has played the Grandstand several times already; last year he was the warm-up act for the Goo Goo Dolls.
The modern-rock double bill of The Fray and Our Lady Peace checks in Saturday, Aug. 29, 7:30 p.m. ($35 to $45), followed on Sunday, Aug. 30, 8 p.m., with Comedy Central ventriloquist Jeff Dunham.
The Grandstand rarely books comedians (Bob Hope, Steve Martin and Bill
Cosby were among the exceptions), yet given the intimacy of Dunham’s
voice-throwing routine, all of the $40 ducats have been taken, with
only $35 seats now up for grabs.
Fabric of our lives: The Fray will also rock the State Fair.
The Grandstand is dark on Monday, Aug. 31, then reopens on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m., with free admission for the 28th annual Colgate Country Showdown. Local singer Erica Mattes,
the victor of a recent contest held by WBBS-FM, will compete for state
final honors and a $1,000 cash prize against other country challengers
from Binghamton, Elmira, Wellsville, Newark, Dansville and Liberty.
Providing musical accompaniment will be the apostrophe-challenged local
faves J.D. and Rollin South.
This year’s new wrinkle at the Grandstand will be a boxing card on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m. ($15 to $20), with notables Christy Martin, Jason Estrada and James McGirt Jr.
taking on other practitioners of the sweet science. For those choosing
not to witness sluggers getting their ears boxed in, prepare for the
earplug-mandated Crue Fest blowout on Thursday, Sept. 3, 5 p.m. ($50 to $55), with hard rock galore courtesy of Motley Crue, Godsmack, Theory of a Deadman, Drowning Pool and Charm City Devils.
Wrapping the music contributions at the Grandstand will be the driving rhythms of Kid Rock and Uncle Kracker
on Saturday, Sept. 5, 7:30 p.m. ($45 to $50). Then the Grandstand
reverts to redneck retro with a tractor pull on Sunday, Sept. 6, 1 p.m.
($15 to $20) and a demolition derby on Monday, Sept. 7, 5 p.m. ($15 to
Over at Chevrolet Court, where the new
two-per-day concert schedule goes into effect with different acts at 2
and 8 p.m., Christian rockers The Afters handle the afternoon set on Friday, Aug. 28, while the galumphing crunch of Grand Funk Railroad takes over in the evening. On Saturday, Aug. 29, 2 p.m., Radio Disney pop princess Jordan Pruitt will entertain the tween masses, followed by an 8 p.m. gig from rockin’ quartet Shinedown—and
scheduling this freebie opposite the Grandstand’s The Fray-Our Lady
Peace show may end up splitting that audience demographic.
The afternoon shift on Sunday, Aug. 30, will feature the Jersey Shore rock of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.
Capable of filling up the Syracuse University Quad during a free
concert in 1980, the band has endured many personnel changes after
30-odd years, but 60-year-old lead singer John Lyon is still the drawing card. And if he performs “Check Mr. Popeye,” all will be right in the world.
For Senior Day on Monday, Aug. 31, 2 p.m., vivacious local singer Nancy Kelly will perform alongside musicians corralled from the Central New York Jazz Orchestra and Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, as the Chevy Court’s portrait of late bandleader Stan Colella beams down on his flock. At 8 p.m., soul survivor Abdul “Duke” Fakir continues the rhythm’n’blues foundation laid out by The Four Tops.
The 1950s greaser spoofery of Sha Na Na
(sans Bowzer, who has his own traveling show) will slide into Chevy
Court on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2 p.m., during the State Fair’s second
Senior Day. Then the Southern rock of .38 Special takes over at 8 p.m. Aside from the odd attraction of super-chef Bobby Flay on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 1 p.m. (see article on page 14), the only music at Chevy Court will consist of 1980s pop courtesy of Rick Springfield at 8 p.m. Soap opera addicts still cherish his long-ago emoting on General Hospital, as Springfield was considered the McSteamy of the Reagan era.
Alt-rockers Switchfoot perform
on Friday, Sept. 4, 8 p.m., then two similar teen fan bases—one past,
the other present—will be appeased on Saturday, Sept. 5. Disney
recording artist Drew Seeley returns to the State Fair for a 2
p.m. show (Seeley and the aforementioned Jordan Pruitt served as
openers for last year’s Vanessa Hudgens-Corbin Bleu show), while
1990s-era teens who fell for the silky sounds of dreamboats Boyz II Men will doubtless turn up en masse for their 8 p.m. show.
The second annual Homegrown Talent Showcase will field local musicians from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 6, including Prime Time, Emerald City and The Action! Then old-school hip-hopper MC Hammer busts a move at 8 p.m. Chevy Court winds down its 2009 slate on Monday, Sept. 7, with a 2 p.m. set from tweenster scenester Drake Bell, last seen locally at Great Northern Mall a few winters ago, and an 8 p.m. finale with blues performer Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
—Phil D. Rapper