It’s something old (or at least returning), a few things new and plenty of blues when it comes to the 2014 installment of Springfield’s annual CityBlock Concert Series at Stearns Square.
“We are definitely excited about what we put together this year,” says Chris Russell, interim executive director of the Springfield Business Improvement District (SBID), which coordinates the popular summer series. “Last year’s concerts drew thousands of people each week to downtown Springfield, and we are hoping for an even bigger turnout in 2014.”
Russell says the SBID has laced the lineup with a healthy dose of first-timers, including country girl Maggie Rose (Aug. 7), Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones (Aug 21) and ’90s alt-rock darlings The Spin Doctors (July 10, plus a field of returning favorites like The Smithereens (Aug. 28), Roomful of Blues (July 17) and homegrown notables FAT (July 3).
In what they say will be their final year of touring, politically charged Celtic rockers Black 47 will kick things off this Thursday, June 26.
All CityBlock Stearns Square shows are free, begin at 6 p.m. and occur rain or shine. For the full rundown, kindly point your browser to springfielddowntown.com.
Two days later—Saturday, June 28 to be exact—scene stalwart Bill “Wildcat” O’Halloran launches what he hopes will be the first occurrence of an annual event when he looses his Wildcat Wendell Bluesfest on the masses at Deja Brew in Wendell.
“Western Mass. hasn’t had a blues festival since the ill-fated Northampton Blues Fest, which had so many powerhouse acts [that] when the biblical rains came, there was a flood of red ink as well,” the “Wild” one says, explaining his impetus for creating the event. “In the meantime, I’ve been doing a bunch of multi-performer shows, notably before Thanksgiving at the Harp, and my 2-year-old jam at City Sports in Northampton. So Deja Brew wanted the event, I called a vast lineup of area stars, and they almost all said yes!”
Among those on the receiving end of Halloran’s calls are Wally “Sweet Daddy Cool Breeze” Greaney, Art Steele, Emily Duff (saxophonist for Westfield’s groove-happy The Raft) and Charlie Scott of The Reprobates.
“Me and my band will be providing backing for most of the festivies,” Halloran says. “Since we’ve also backed up the likes of Bo Diddley in the past, I’m pretty sure we are up to the task.” The Wildcat Wendell Bluesfest begins on the Deja Brew deck at 5 p.m. Suggested donation, $10: proceeds will benefit Friends of Wendell.
In other news, Westfield’s own Ashley Gearing joins Nashville notable David Fanning for a free performance on the Westfield Town Green June 26. Dubbed Musicfest, the seasonal series will also feature Natalie Stovall and her band, The Drive, with The Lost Trailers July 24 and Beatles mimics Mystery Tour Aug. 21. Visit westfieldonweekends.com for more deets.•
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