Summer Times 2015: Music Fests

Jessica Novak covers what prominent music festivals are happening during the summer in Central New York.

Summertime music spots are plentiful in the Salt City and the surrounding area. Ranging from headliners like Robert Plant and The Black Keys to Aretha Franklin, there are lots of festivals to go around. Here are just a few:

Mountain Jam Festival

Valerie June at last year's Mountain Jam. Photo from

Valerie June at last year’s Mountain Jam.
Photo from

When: June 4-7

Where: Hunter, Catskill Mountains

Steered by one of the premier guitarists performing today, former Allman Brother Warren Haynes, this year’s consistently stellar schedule includes Robert Plant, Alabama Shakes, Gov’t Mule, Grace Potter, Railroad Earth and more. Daily passes are $49, $75 and $85, while multi-day passes run $215 to $269.

For more information: (518) 628-4423,

Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival

When: June 19-27

Where: Rochester

With multiple days, a huge variety in the lineup and a citywide spread, Rochester’s blowout packs a punch. This year Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Jennifer Hudson, Gary Clark Jr. and an extensive list of others will fill the city with music.

For more information: (585) 454-2060,


When: June 26-28

Where: Jamesville Beach Park, 4110 Westshore Manor Road, Jamesville.

Free admission is the big news this year, with hot-air balloons as the major attraction, plus lots of local bands taking the main stage: Prime Time Band, Letizia and the Z Band, Custom Taylor Band, T.J. Sacco Band, the Blacklites and more. There is a $10 parking fee.

For more information: 703-9620,

Homemade Jam Otisco Lake Community Center

When: June 27

Where: 2223 Amber Road, Marietta

The free acoustic music jamboree, running 3 to 9 p.m., features performances by Boots N Shorts, the Easy Ramblers, Donna Colton, the JoDogs and more.

Sterling Stage Kampitheater

When: July, August, September

Where: 274 Kent Road, Sterling

This summer staple has grown consistently since its birth 20 years ago. Upcoming festivals include a 20th anniversary celebration (July 2-5) with Max Creek, Tim Herron Corporation, Los Blancos and more, String Fling (July 30-Aug. 2) and Last Daze of Summer (Sept. 17-20), as the venue packs more local bands beside headliners than any other.

For more information:

New York State Blues Festival

When: July 10-11

Where: Clinton Square, downtown Syracuse

Although the festival has shifted leadership several times within the past few years, it still maintains a solid schedule in 2015, with Robert Randolph and the Family Band, the Devon Allman Band and The Kingsnakes slated to rock.

For more information:

M&T Syracuse Jazz Fest

Trombone Shorty graced the stage at JazzFest in 2014.

Trombone Shorty graced the stage at Jazz Fest in 2014.

When: July 17-18

Where: Onondaga Community College, 4585 W. Seneca Turnpike

Now in its 33rd year, founder and producer Frank Malfitano has proven once again that he can command star-studded lineups for this free festival. This year’s schedule includes Aretha Franklin, Lake Street Dive, Wynton Marsalis and Buckwheat Zydeco.

For more information:


When: July 23-26

Where: Breitbeck Park, Lake Street, and other locations in downtown Oswego

Generations will collide at the free-admission Harborfest, bringing Felix Cavaliere’s old-school Rascals alongside Fastball, The Rembrandts and the Gin Blossoms. Local acts including the Ron Spencer Band and Brownskin will also perform.

For more information:

Chenango Blues Fest

Photo provided

Photo provided

When: Aug. 21-22

Where: Chenango County Fairgrounds, East Main Street, Norwich

Consistently one of the premier blues festivals on the East Coast, this edition will bring living legend Ronnie Earl and The Broadcasters as well as John Nemeth, Nikki Hill and others to the stage. Friday night is free; admission to the Saturday schedule is $20 in advance, $30 at the gate.

For more information:


When: Aug. 21-23

Where: Watkins Glen International Grounds, 2790 County Route 16, Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen, site of the 1973 Summer Jam, hosted Phish’s 2011 Super Ball IX festival, which was a gigantic success, drawing more than 60,000 listeners. This year, the band will do it again at its 10th festival. Weekend passes are $225.

For more information:


When: Aug. 30

Where: The Ridge Golf Club and Tavern, 1281 Salt Springs Road, Chittenango

This cozy tavern has quickly become a music hot spot, hosting bands twice a week and a slew of festivals throughout the summer including Ridgestock (a recreation of Woodstock), which will feature three house bands and handfuls of local musicians.

For more information: 687-6900.

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