by Matt Bauer
Summer’s almost over, so that means that it’s time for the Rochester Summer Soul Festival, which will be taking over Frontier Field this Friday and Saturday, August 23 and 24.
Celebrating its 24th anniversary this year, the festival has showcased such legendary talent as George Clinton, Cameo, Angie Stone, Charlie Wilson, Patti Labelle and Bobby Brown, among many others. This year’s line-up is no exception as it features Bell Biv Devoe (the New Edition off-shoot celebrates their 30th anniversary this year !), Guy, Keke Wyatt, Christopher Williams, Shanice, Lil Mo and Michel’le on Saturday the 24th, respectively.
“When we do the shows we try to come up with a theme,“ said promoter Varick Baiyina of Experience Events, LLC who is handling the event for a second consecutive year. “ Last year, we had an old school theme one day with George Clinton, Morris Day & The Time and a neo-soul day. This year we’re going with a new jack swing type theme.”
Baiyina said that planning of the event starts at least seven months to a year out explaining that organizing with sponsors and partners as well as booking the headliners is a time sensitive process: “We have to book the headliners before the year is out because if we don’t, you won’t get the dates for the summer festivals.”
The festival kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday with the Summer Soul Tailgate Music Experience which will feature the finest local talent as well as a performance by Chubb Rock in the Frontier Field VIP Lot. Saturday’s events start with a Community Block Club Party from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. in the Frontier Field VIP Lot with a back to school Back Pack giveaway before the Stone Soul Saturday Concert gets underway in Frontier Field Stadium at 5p.m.
“They’re calling the Rochester Summer Soul festival the finale of the summer,” said Baiyina who graciously acknowledged the partnership with the City of Rochester and mayor Lovely A. Warren in presenting the event. “There’s so many different things going on in the summer, we realize that we’re not always going to be first priority but if we put together a great
show people will at least mark it on the calendar and plan to come. Rochester and the Western New York region [might buy the tickets] slow but they always show up.”