Nothing But Notes

Central New York catches festival fever with many musical blowouts.

Trombone Shorty. Michael Davis photo

From blues to balloons, campsites to waterfronts, it’s summertime in Syracuse and the festivals are popping up everywhere. Whether people are looking for heavy-hitting headliners or prime local talent, it’s all covered. Here are just a few musical events coming to Central New York.

Art on the Porches ( Art and music bring the Strathmore neighborhood streets to life every year, and it happens again on Saturday, June 18. In addition to the artworks showcased on personal porches, music from Two Hour Delay, Second Line Syracuse, Castle Creek, Tim Herron and the Great Blue, Methodist Bells and more will fill the air.

Homemade Jam. Otisco Lake Community Center, 2345 Amber Road, Marietta. ( This annual event, slated for Saturday, June 18, 3 to 9 p.m., places musical acts next to the scenic Otisco Lake, with food vendors, kids activities and more. Guests during the free acoustic music jamboree will feature Joe Whiting and Dave Walker, Jodogs, Alison and Zoe, the Bog Brothers, Honky-Tonk Hindooz and The Easy Ramblers.

Fab Ripcords _MG_2787

The Fabulous Ripcords. Michael Davis photo

Jamesville Balloonfest. Jamesville Beach Park, 4110 W. Shore Manor Road, Jamesville. ( Admission is free to the 37th annual event, which will feature hot-air balloons, music, arts, crafts and food on Friday, June 24, to Sunday, June 26. Local acts will dominate the stage, with Grit N Grace, Dr. Killdean, The Blacklites, Stroke, the Fabulous Ripcords, Prime Time Horns, Under the Gun, Letizia and the Z Band and more.

Sterling Stage Kampitheater. 274 Kent Road, Sterling. (818) 212-9489; With two more festivals this season, the upcoming Ameribeat (June 30-July 5) and Last Daze of Summer (Sept. 1-4), this popular warm-weather spot is bringing back old favorites and introducing new ones. With musical acts such as Sophistafunk, Chris James and Mama G, Max Creek, Tim Herron, Subsoil, Root Shock, Freekbass, Ruddy Well Band and more taking the stages, this summertime Sterling sanctuary maintains its popularity.

M&T Syracuse Jazz Festival. Onondaga Community College, 4585 W. Seneca Turnpike. ( Now entering its 34th year, this free two-day celebration of jazz and more takes place Saturday, July 2, and Sunday, July 3. With acts including Michael McDonald, The Mavericks, Larry Coryell and the Eleventh House, an all-star tribute to late jazzer Mark Murphy featuring Randy Brecker, the New York Voices and more and the popular return of Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, the lineup spans the musical gamut. Local talent will also be showcased when Noteified, Julia Goodwin, the Stan Colella All-Star Band and Second Line Syracuse all take the stage.

New York State Blues Festival. Clinton Square, Downtown Syracuse. ( This free festival is bringing all shades of the blues together for two days of music on Friday, July 8, and Saturday, July 9. The bill features Butch Trucks (of Allman Brothers Band fame) with his Freight Train Band, Sonny Landreth, Toronzo Cannon, Tas Cru, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, Brandon Santini and a healthy dose of local talent from the Westcott Jugsuckers, Mike Delaney and the Delinquents, Midnight Mike Petroff Blues Harp Band and more. The K.J. James Memorial Scholarship will also recognize three stellar musicians under age 18.

Candlelight Series. West Jefferson and Franklin streets, Armory Square. ( The 32nd annual free Saturday-night showcase will join jazz with classical, guitar with voice. The event sets up near Armory Square restaurants and allows people to sit outside in the street for candlelit dinners or on the lawn by the MOST (Museum of Science and Technology). Musical acts include Ronnie Leigh and Todd Hobin (July 9, 7 p.m.), Symphoria Brass Quintet and Jerry Cali (July 16, 7 p.m.), and Loren Barrigar, Mark Mazengarb, Danielle Patrice and Dick Ford (July 23, 7 p.m.).

The Ridge Tavern. 1281 Salt Springs Road, Chittenango. (687-6900; The Almost Famous Fest, slated for Saturday, July 24, will feature non-stop favorites with tribute sets honoring artists including David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Bruce Springsteen. And Ridgestock, scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 27, will recreate the famous Woodstock festival and feature local artists including Skip Murphy and the Merry Pranksters, The Barndogs and Grupo Pagan.

Oswego Harborfest. Downtown Oswego. ( This festival will celebrate its 29th year with fireworks, vendors and music from headlining acts Blues Traveler and Dennis DeYoung playing the music of Styx. The fest, which attracts nearly 125,000 every year, runs Thursday, July 28, through Sunday, July 31.

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