CAMBRIDGE — The GrooveFEST Downtown Music Festival will return to Cambridge Saturday, Sept. 21, with a new time and location.
The festival, organized by the Downtown Cambridge organization, is moving to the corner of Race and Cedar streets, with performances beginning at noon. Performances are scheduled to last until 6 p.m. and feature a number of bands from across the region, including Hoppie Vaughan and the Ministers of Soul, Uphill Swampland Blues and SoulTET. Local favorites The Evolution Band also are scheduled to perform, as well as the Cambridge-South Dorchester High School Jazz Band.
The festival pays homage to the musical roots of the city, known as “Groove City,” a nickname that was born from local DJs who helped give the city its name. Cambridge has been a destination for top musical performers dating back the the jazz and blues era, during which touring acts like Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles performed as a part of the “chitlin circuit” on Pine Street.
In the early 2000s, the Groove City Jazz and Blues Festival played host to regional performing artists and helped profile the musical heritage of the community. GrooveFEST channels that community and musical vibe by inviting all to enjoy great music in downtown Cambridge.
Hoppie Vaughan and the Ministers of Soul will headline the festival as a rhythm and blue-eyed soul group from Roanoke, Va. Hoppie Vaughan’s inspiration and influence has been a major catalyst for the growth of Roanoke’s live music scene, which is getting bigger and better every year. In April 2018, Hoppie and the Ministers of Soul opened for the James Hunter Six at the Harvester Performance Center in Rocky Mount, Va.
He also has performed or appeared with Delbert McClinton, Rod Price of Foghat, Mac Gayden, Tommy Two Tone, Jimmy Hall of Wet Willie, Ronnie Milsap, Wayne Perkins, Tommy Castro, Tab Benoit, John Mayall, Sonia Data, Goose Creek Symphony, Gatemouth Brown, Miranda Louise and The Kentucky Headhunters. When he and Tommy Castro shared the lineup on the 26th Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise in 2016, Castro said, “That finger pickin’ thing you got goin’ on is great. Keep doin’ that!” As Hoppie’s intricate, scorching guitar licks continue to garner him as many accolades as his superb, heartfelt vocals, Castro’s observation was on point.
Uphill plays Carolina blues straight out of the swampland. With a mix of original blues and revitalizing versions of lost classics from Chicago to the Delta, Uphill has brought its own Carolina tang to the table since 2005.
Deacon Blues captures the soul of guitar legends from Muddy Waters to Stevie Ray Vaughan, but the Uphill sound also is driven by Chris “Catdaddy” Palestrant on keys and the Deacon’s gut-busting blues harp. Virginia Beach-based Isaiah Hunter on drums provides a powerful heartbeat.
SoulTET is a young vivacious, energetic, soulful band out of Baltimore with roots in funk, R&B, soul and jazz. This group is guaranteed to get you out of your seat and dance. The band member sare Jordan Mills (vocals/keys), Sven Radhe (drums), Adam Rooner (guitar), Tyler Bartram (bass), Elie Bergsman (bari/tenor sax). The group is inspired by Tower of Power, Lettuce, Soulive, The Motet, Chuck Brown, James Brown, Earth Wind and Fire, George Benson, Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock.
The festival will feature food, beer and vendors. The event is free to the public. Organizers encourage attendees to bring a blanket or lawn chair.
The event is possible because of the support of sponsors such as G&G Distributors, Shore Craft Beer, Delmarva Public Radio, Holiday Inn Express in Cambridge and others.
More information about the event, vendors,and schedule is available at www.downtowncambridge.org, or call the Downtown Cambridge office at 443-477-0843.