Observer-Dispatch: Free Thursdays bring out national musical talents

The NBT Bank Free Thursdays are a blast in downtown Norwich from now until the end of August with great national artists appearing on the East Park stage weekly.

With everything from roots rock to bluegrass there is something for everyone. Whether it’s this year’s Grammy winner or next year’s up and coming artist, concertgoers can expect great musicianship at every concert.

Longtime favorite Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad performs July 18. Their live shows are always a highlight because they showcase the group’s musicianship across all genres of roots music.

The Garcia Project comes to Norwich July 25 to recreate a classic Jerry Garcia Band set from anywhere from 1976 to 1995, and on Aug. 1 it will be the return of Bill Kirchen - the master of the telecaster and original guitarist for Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airman.

Following that Aug. 8 is the much-anticipated appearance of Pink Talking Fish. They take three music icons whose only commonality is their phenomenal live shows and world wide appeal and create a special musical experience.

The Aug. 15 show kicks off Blues Fest weekend, and what a kick off it will be. Tommy Castro and the Painkillers know how to ignite a crowd with their sweat drenched live shows. They won the Blues Music Award for Best Blues Band and were a recent Chenango Blues Fest headliner. The Nate Gross Band will open the show for them to get things rolling for a great weekend of music.

The 2019 Grammy winner for Best Bluegrass Band, the Travelin McCourys, will make their first visit to the area Aug. 22. Every member of the group has been recognized by an International Bluegrass Association award for their instrument at least once, so virtuosity is guaranteed. What fans get beyond that is the deepest DNA pool in bluegrass with brothers Ronnie and Rob, growing up in their father, Del McCoury’s band. Rather than rest on that, they take the tradition and push it in to new territory – they are both progressive and historic in the same breath.

Closing the summer out is a unique collaboration of two diverse and singular talents: Ivan Neville and Cris Jacobs. Neville brings the feel of the Neville Brothers’ funk and Jacobs brings a soulful groove. They combine their efforts to produce music that is fresh and timeless - equal parts soulful and funky, sweet and dirty. It’s rare that their schedules allow them to play alongside each other, so don’t miss this chance to hear what these two unique talents sound like together.

NBT Bank has once again made these nationally touring artists available for everyone at no cost. It’s an opportunity to bring family and friends together in downtown Norwich to pass a good time and hear some outstanding music. This year there will be an expanded food vendor area with Ray Brother’s BBQ and Gilligan’s Ice Cream joining last year’s vendors to create a diverse array of food options. Park Place will again have a large beer garden for those so inclined.

Concertgoers can plan to come early and grab dinner from downtown restaurants or the food court and make it a great summer evening in the park.

Significant support for the concerts has also been provided by the R.C. Smith Foundation, the Greater Norwich Foundation and by a grant from the New York State Council of the Arts, administered by the Chenango County Council of the Arts Decentralization program.

Together these people are responsible for bringing in artists from all over the country to perform in the heart of downtown Norwich. The Chenango Blues Association would like the express their deep appreciation to all of them for their dedication to the Chenango County Community.

For more information on the NBT Bank Free Thursdays or the 27th annual Preferred Mutual Chenango Blues Festival, visit

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