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Event information for the 2017 season will be posted here in earliest event first order. Please visit this page to obtain the most current scheduling information.

Free admission to all shows during the Friday Summer Concert Series!
All shows begin at 7pm unless otherwise indicated.

Schedule

Note: Dates and Artists are subject to change. Please check back for updates.

July 7th - Milagro Saints
July 14th - Frank Bang & The Cook County Kings
July 21st - Kara Grainger
July 28th - Patrick Fitzsimmons
August 4th - Billy Hector
August 11th - Hollis Brown
August 18th - Danielia Cotton
August 25th - Peter Karp & The Roadshow

Please Note: rain policy for 2017. All shows will be at the Nicholson Pavilion in Dykstra Park. If there is a significant threat of inclement weather, the show will be held indoors at the Mohawk Ave School Auditorium at 7pm. Please check the home page on the day of each show for updated information regarding postponement or relocation.

Friday
May052017

July 7th - Milagro Saints

Milagro Saints, a roots rock band from North carolina, released their new album “STRANGER TIMES” 6/7/ 2016 kicked off by the hard driving harmonica blues rock “SHADOW MAN” as the advance ’single’  The new album has a strong sense of protest and is somewhat angry in response to our current political and environmental climate changes. Lead singer/songwriter/guitarist SD Ineson’s major influence is Dylan - so it seems appropriate for the band to engage the reality of the times a’changin’. 

These issues turned into the initial writing for the album and musically came out of SD Ineson experimenting with blues guitar ‘open’ tunings-which also led to the relentless riffs propelling Shadow Man, Rail Rider and Further Along added to that was guitarist Roberto Morales discovering a 1951 Magnatone lap steel guitar and mashing the hell out of it for his solos.The majority of the album was recorded very spontaneously and live with the whole band playing together in the same room and several of the lead vocals are first takes.

"Stranger Times" is played by: SD Ineson lead vox/guitar, Jick wins-Low  trombonist, fiddler, guitarist, mandolinist, b. vocals Lee Kirby, amplified harmonica, pumping accordion, bluesy piano and raucous hammond. Mr Steve Samosky on glissando Bass, and the exotic Roberto Morales bending his electric fender guitar and slapping his 1951 Magnatone Lap Steel . Tall Guy Steve Bowen is slamming the drums. Joyce Bowden and Karen Delahunty contribute vocals.

Previous albums by the Saints are  "Tupelo" (2016) which picked up significant Americana radio play for its lead single "American Radio" and "Mighty Road Songs" (2013) an EP of Woody Guthrie songs recorded in roots/rock Americana versions to celebrate The Saints playing the WoodyFest in Okemah OK that year. The EP charted at AMA top 50.

 

opening act:

Tim Mercer

Tim Mercer is a singer/songwriter out of Portland, ME. He spent 12 years in Brooklyn, NY fronting the rock band, Daphne. During his time in New York, Tim won the K-Rock Battle of the Bands, and was the runner up in the HBO Rock The Stones Contest, as well as the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. He was also a semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Contest out of 16,000 entries.  

His songs have been in movies including Ted, Ted 2, All Saints Day and Unreal, as well the hit Fox TV show Family Guy.

Friday
May052017

July 14th - Frank Bang & The Cook County Kings

Frank “Bang” Blinkal former Buddy Guy Guitarist and Leader of Frank Bang & the Secret Stash has been waiting to make this record.  The disc “The Blues Don’t Care” was released in 2016.  This marks Frank Bang’s first true “Blues” recording in the Blues journey man’s 25 year career.

“I have been waiting to make this record, Frank Bang & the Cook County Kings my whole life. “

Frank Bang, who is born and raised in Chicago, worked his way up through the ranks to play with Blues Master and Legend Buddy Guy. As Buddy’s guitar player for 5 years “I always was the blues guitarist in every band I played in, no matter Funk, or Rock …
“I was always the Blues guy in the band.” …The Love of his Chicago Blues led him to Buddy Guy’s Legends.

“I started there in 1991, I did everything from change the merchandise, to paint the place.  I even cooked brunch two Blues Festival weekends with Sam Guy, Buddy’s brother. “
“Between Buddy Guy, Magic Slim and The Teardrops and just the club “Legends” changed my life forever.”
“It all came full circle when I joined Buddy Guy’s band at the end of 1999.” “ It was an incredible experience, playing with Buddy every night for 5 years,” “Touring every summer with B.B. King, seeing the world , playing with your idols and inspiring the greats that inspired me.It was an amazing experience.”

Frank Bang & the Secret Stash was a blues rock band. Now Bang is back with his first ever Blues record.  Frank Bang & the Cook County Kings “The Blues Don’t Care.” “We recorded all 10 tracks in one day!”  “That wasn’t the plan it’s just how it happened!” explains Bang. “All my favorite Blues records were live. We just rolled and recorded, almost everything was a first take. “

The Blues Don’t Care features a who’s who of great Chicago Blues Sidemen. Besides Bang, The Rhythm section of Brian “BJ” Jones has recorded with Blues Greats Junior Wells, James Cotton, Otis Rush. “BJ” was the drummer in Magic Slim and The Teardrops with partner in crime Andre Howard on Bass.  Besides Magic Slim and The Teardrops, Andre played with Lonnie Brooks, Lucky Peterson, Sly Johnson and Chico Banks.  The great foundation they bring to the music is only highlighted by the great Blues background vocals they sing throughout the disc.

Added to the mix is Piano Great Donnie Nichilo a former Buddy Guy and Junior Wells Alumni and founding member of The Mighty Blue Kings. Donnie added the perfect spice on every song.

Last, but not least is Harmonica Player Russ Green.  Russ not only grew up in Chicago learning from the great’s and touring with Lurrie Bell and John Primer.  Russ also won a BMA for producing “Best New Artist Big Llou Johnson.” One only wonders, if Russ Green won’t win a BMA award himself after hearing him tear into these songs.

Together Frank Bang & the Cook County King have nailed it! First take! A great Blues record, recorded “Live” with a vibe that’s straight off the stage of a Chicago Blues Club at Midnight.

“I wanted to remember the records of yesterday while recording this disc. “ I thought about Buddy, Junior Wells, AC Reed, Otis Spahn, Magic Slim and Otis Rush.” No long solos like the old records, that’s for the stage. Not this disc.  And the material was easy, 25 years in the making.”
“This whole recording was a great time, and That is the Bands motto on stage,  “Let’s have a great time playing together, and the crowds are picking up on that.”

Opening Act TBD

Friday
May052017

July 21st - Kara Grainger

 

Kara Grainger - Her music career began in a small suburban town of Sydney Australia and since then  has taken her on an incredible journey throughout the globe.  Combining tasteful blues and slide guitar, soulful vocals and a heartfelt approach to songwriting,  Kara's  truly unique sound will leave you  uplifted, inspired and always wanting more.
  
At the age of 16 Kara joined with her brother Mitch Grainger to form the band "Papa Lips". The band toured consistently throughout Australia and produced two studio albums that received national air play.
The band was heavily influenced by the sounds of Stax recording in Memphis, and by the Funky style of blues and soul that derived from New Orleans.

 

In 2008 Kara signed to Australian label "Craving Records" and was invited to the US by producer David Kalish where she recorded her debut solo album. The recording entitled "Grand and Green River" received critical acclaim and remained in the top 30 of the Americana Charts for 38 straight weeks.

Since then Kara has made two further albums whilst residing in the US. In 2011 "LA Blues" was recorded live at Studio City Sound. The cd paid tribute to some of Kara's earliest blues inspirations and in 2013 kara recorded and released"Shiver and Sigh" through Los Angeles record label "Eclecto Groove." The album was produced by grammy award winning producer David Z with some of LA's finest musicians, including Mike Finnigan, Hutch Hutchinson, James Gadson and Kirk Fletcher among others. 

Recently Kara was invited to play in North east India by the Himalayan Blues Foundation. Her performance at the "18 degrees cultural Festival" introduced the local community in Shillong to roots and blues music for the very first time.

She has traveled to Indonesia several times to perform at the the Jakarta International Blues Festival, performing together with her US band and also as a special guest with "The Jakarta all Women Blues Review".

In 2011 she toured Japan with "The Swampers and Donnie Fritts", the infamous house Rhythm section for "Fame Recordings" in Muscle Shoals…She has taken her band to Switzerland where she performed at the "Sierre Blues Festival" as well as "Lucerne". The band has also toured in Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg and Spain..

In 2015 Kara performed at the "Beautiful swamp Festival" in Calais France and also to sell out crowds on her debut tour of the Uk. One of the highlights was perfoming at "Ronnie Scotts", Londons premier blues and jazz venue.

In the US Kara has performed at several Festivals such as 'The Portland Waterfront Blues Festival', 'Blues from the Top' in Colorado and "Austin City Limits". She has also opened the show for many extraordinary acts such as Peter Frampton, Buddy Guy,Taj Mahal and Jonny Lang, to name a few.

 

Friday
May052017

July 28th - Patrick Fitzsimmons

 

PATRICK FITZSIMMONS RETURNS TO SPARTA
Patrick Fitzsimmons will perform with a group of amazing musicians joining him at this great outdoor concert locale. John Skehan III of Railroad Earth on mandolin, Geoff Doubleday on electric guitar, Ned Stroh on drums, Johnny Grubb on bass and Tom Askin on piano.
Patrick has recently released "Hope Is", his sixth CD and first on Malletts Bay Records. The title is directly inspired by the Emily Dickinson poem, "Hope Is the Thing With Feathers" but the album's emotional content is grounded in powerful real life events. Fitzsimmons started working on the songs for "Hope Is" back in the winter of 2011. Creatively blocked, he forced himself to write a song per day for a week via Skype for his west-coast girlfriend, calling them “Skype Dates”. The songs found their way to the album. The buoyant drive of the album marks a compositional breakthrough for the critically acclaimed songwriter who has been called “one of the most captivating songwriters around today” by Relix Magazine. John Platt of WFUV radio said, "Patrick has such a melodic gift and crystal clear voice...a singer-songwriter of the first rank".
Patrick has shared the stage with some of the acoustic music scene's biggest names including Shawn Colvin, Dar Williams, Roger McGuinn, Ellis Paul and Vance Gilbert. Fitzsimmons continues to tour throughout the northeast building his large and loyal following with soulful, captivating performances.
As a young boy, Patrick loved the singer-songwriters of the ’70’s, drawn to the works of such artists as Cat Stevens, Paul Simon & James Taylor. Though his first instrument was the drums, he eventually came full circle to follow the path of his childhood heroes. In high school in Sparta, New Jersey, he and two classmates formed a band that would ultimately become From Good Homes, a folk/rock band signed to RCA Records in the mid ‘90’s. FGH recorded three CDs with RCA and toured the country, sharing the stage with Bob Dylan, Dave Mathews Band, Joan Osborne and many others. In 1999 the band broke up and Patrick moved to Vermont and began his solo career.
The Summer Concerts are sponsored by the township, local businesses and of course the music fans. They are FREE to the public. Bring family and friends, lawn chairs and a picnic. The show begins at 7PM at The Nicholson Pavilion, Dykstra Park, 22 Woodport Road, Sparta. Rain location is next door at The Mohawk Avenue School. Please see www.spartaarts.org for more information on the series, for updates or to become
a sponsor. 
Opening for Patrick Fitzsimmons will be NJ based folk duo Mef and Angela.

 

Friday
May052017

August 4th - Billy Hector

 

The Sparta Summer Concert Seriesis proud to welcome Billy Hector back to town. Whether BillyHector is teasing you with his sultry slide work, pickingthrough delta blues or flat-out cranking it up and crunchingout the electric blues/rock on his beloved vintage FenderStratocaster, his music reflects the true soul and origins ofthe blues; always passionate, engaging and dedicated tomaking the audience move and sweat. Having honed hischops and style through three decades of performances,Hector is critically recognized as one of the hottest and mostinteresting guitarist/songwriters on the original circuit andhas even been called “A New Jersey state treasure” by musicwriters.

 

Early in his career, Billy Hector identified himself as a deeply grounded and versatile player drawing his influences from important predecessors including T-Bone Walker, Freddie King, Jimi Hendrix, Roy Buchanan and a host of others across musical style and genre. But, as with all truly great musicians, recognizable influences are interesting only insofar as they provide a departure point for the musician's spirit. It falls on the musician to shape his predecessor's ideas into music that does not simply replicate but engagingly adds to the whole. Most can only aspire to this level of creation; Billy Hector generates it in spades and it happens every night.

In the late 70s, Hector’s first stop was as the guitarist for The Shots, a horn-driven R&B group that took over the house band role from Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes at the renowned Stone Pony. He moved on as lead guitarist for Hot Romance, a band based at the infamous Mrs. Jay’s biker bar in Asbury Park that also began receiving New York City radio airplay for its original songs.

In the mid-80’s, drawn back to earlier musical roots, Billy Hector formed the five-piece blues/rock band The Fairlanes and, co-wrote and released three independent albums on the Blue Jersey label.

By early 1993, Hector regrouped as a power trio and renamed his band The Billy Hector Band. The band’s present lineup is guitars/lead vocals Billy Hector, drummer Sim Cain and bassist Tim Tindall. The Billy Hector Band also performs acoustic blues in multiple personnel configurations.

 A prolific songwriter/composer, Billy Hector has fourteen albums to his credit, most on the independent Ghetto Surf label. And with over thirty-five years of performing under his belt, Billy Hector is recognized as one of the hottest guitarists and songwriters playing the original circuit and serves up what more than one reviewer has called "one of the best shows you'll ever see".

Opening the evening is Blue Country.  

Blue Country plays a mix of old and new country, choice rock, blues & folk favorites by artists such as:

Allison Krauss, Hank Williams, Toby Keith, Willie Nelson, Grateful Dead, John Prine, James Taylor, Emmylou Harris, Eric Clapton, Randy Travis, AlanJackson, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Patty Loveless, Steve Goodman, Bob Dylan, The Band, Little Feat, Jonny Cash, Lyle Lovett, Tanya Tucker, Joe Cocker, Jerry Lee Louis, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, John Denver, Mearl Haggard, Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt, and more...

  The concert at the Nicholson Pavilion, Dykstra Park, 22 Woodport Rd, Sparta begins at 7PM Friday night, rain or shine. See www.spartaarts.org for additional information. Please check the website after 2pm on Friday for any inclement weather updates.