The roots of rock and roll stem from the blues, and the Cedar Beach Blues Music & Arts Festival, to be held Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 17 and 18, celebrates this American musical genre on Long Island. On its 25th anniversary, the festival relocates to West Sayville on the grounds of the Long Island Maritime Museum.
"It's the gathering of the tribe for the last outdoor music festival of the year," says promoter Mark "Doc Blues" Gresser. "I want people to explore the blues and support these local artists."
Here are five standout acts:
KEN 'THE ROCKET' KORB
Having grown up in a musical family, Korb plays a variety of instruments (clarinet, guitar, mandolin, banjo, Irish whistle, saxophone, recorder) but he's primarily known for his harmonica mastery.
"I can add flash or keep it on the melody," says Korb of Holbrook. "They call me 'The Rocket' because of the outer- space sounds I can make with my harmonica."
Korb has played on more than 50 albums, including those of artists such as Kerry Kearney and Toby Walker. At the festival, he'll perform with the Tobacco Roadies, mix it up in a Harp Jam and play in his own unit, Rocket & Friends.
"The crowd lights me up," he says. "The key is to relax when you are playing. When you take your time, you do it right."
SETS Saturday at 2 p.m. with the Tobacco Roadies, 3 p.m. with Harp Jam and 5 p.m. with Rocket & Friends, Tent Stage
PAMELA BETTI BAND
Although she was raised on opera and classical music, Betti fell in love with the blues when her father brought home a Sarah Vaughan album.
"The blues really spoke to me," says Betti of Commack. "It's an emotive type of music."
Her shows have humor and personality, which come through on her original songs "Booty Call" and new tune "Trouble."
"The more animated the crowd, the more animated I become," she says. "I really feed off my audience."
SET 3 p.m. Saturday, Main Stage
Walker will be making his return to the festival after a 15-year absence. The Brentwood native brings his signature acoustic finger-pickin' blues guitar playing to the Main Stage.
He will also be honored before his set by the Long Island Music Hall of Fame with the Long Island Sound Award for his colorful career.
"I was completely surprised by the honor," he says. "I'm humbled and proud at the same time."
SET 4 p.m. Saturday, Main Stage
PHIL VARCA & THE SLAMJAMMERS
Varca has kept this blues rock trio going for 26 years and they are still tight.
"I've always been drawn to trios because it gives you the most freedom," says Varca. "It's raw and totally exposed."
In live shows, the band blends originals ("Struttin' ", "Maybe" "Red Light, Green Light") with reworked cover songs (The Who's "Eminence Front").
"Our set will be loud and aggressive," says Varca of Lake Ronkonkoma. "We put our heart and soul into every performance."
SET 6 p.m. Saturday, Main Stage
LEX GREY AND THE URBAN PIONEERS
Grey was introduced to the blues by listening to Led Zeppelin, The Doors and Janis Joplin. After doing some research, she discovered their influences and found her lane.
"The blues runs through my veins," says Grey, who hails from Brooklyn. "It's part of my DNA."
Calling herself the "Mistress of Modern Blues," Grey will be belting out material from the band's upcoming album as well as covers such as Bob Dylan's "Blind Willie McTell," Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Born on the Bayou" and a reboot of Muddy Waters' "Hoochie Coochie Man" called "Hoochie Coochie Woman."
SET 4 p.m. Sunday, Main Stage
CEDAR BEACH BLUES MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL
WHEN | WHERE 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 17 and 18, Long Island Maritime Museum, 86 West Ave., West Sayville
INFO 516-909-7018, cedarbeachblues.com
CONCESSIONS Gourmet food trucks and beer tents (for those 21 and older) will be available.
CRAFTS More than 30 arts & craft vendors will sell items including custom tie-dye products, handcrafted jewelry and more.