Thursday, September 7, 2023

Creative Adirondacks, JBL! presents 8th Annual Blues at Timbuctoo

Jerry Dugger, Martha Swan and Gary Smith at the John Brown Farm in 2020.

The eighth annual “Blues at Timbuctoo” concert takes place on Sunday, September 17, 2023, from noon to 5 p.m. at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid. The event is sponsored by John Brown Lives!, and is free and open to the public, with preregistration recommended. This year’s lineup includes: Jerry Dugger and The Harlem Blues Project, Jake Blount, Dave Keyes, Grant Dermody and Frank Fotusky, and the father-daughter trio, Adirondack Blues Reunion.

[Tickets are available here:]

Jerry Dugger, a native of New York City, helped organize and inaugurate the event in 2016, and has performed every year since that time. I spoke to Jerry this summer and asked him how he came to be involved and so committed year after year. Jerry explained that the idea for Blues at Timbuctoo was conceived during dinner one night with Gary Smith, at a time when Gary owned the Northwood Hotel and regularly booked Blues musicians at his Delta Blue restaurant. Gary was a longtime supporter of JBL! and shared with Jerry that he wanted to produce a blues festival at the beautiful John Brown Farm State Historic Site.


Jerry and Gary spoke at length that evening about how an event at the Farm could bring the community together to hear great music, have conversations and generally just be together. They shared the desire to work against racism and agreed that it was important for parents to create opportunities for their children to socialize in racially diverse environments. Jerry can still remember his first grade teacher admonishing him for giving a white female classmate he befriended a hug, leaving him confused and upset. He was sent home that day, where his parents explained to him the realities he’d have to face as a young black boy growing up in America. Jerry later attended New York City’s Art and Design High School in the 1970s, one of the most ethnically diverse high schools in the City.


Also, on the eve of this year’s concert, Saturday, September 16, 2023, John Brown Lives! is teaming up with Lake Flower Landing to host Culture 4 A Cause and The John Brown Project from Torrington, CT (the abolitionist’s birthplace) to present His Truth Is Marching On. The documentary explores the story of American music from 1619 to Hip Hop as told through the popular Civil War song, “John Brown’s Body.” The film won an Award of Merit from the Connecticut League of History Organizations for its “irreverent and fun approach” to important historical topics. The screening will take place at Lake Flower Landing at 421 Lake Flower Avenue in Saranac Lake. Doors open at 6:30, [and] the screening and conversation will begin at 7 p.m.. Pizza and brews will be available. A donation of $15 is suggested. Seating is limited and preregistration is recommended.

[Tickets are available here:]


Blues at Timbuctoo is made possible, in part, by the Essex County Arts Council’s Cultural Assistance Program Grant with funding provided by Essex County, and with funds from the Statewide Community Regrants program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and administered by the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts.


For more information, go to or text (518) 744-7112.


Photo at top: Jerry Dugger, Martha Swan and Gary Smith at the John Brown Farm in 2020. Photo courtesy of Martha Swan.

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Linda Friedman Ramirez is a resident of Saranac Lake. She previously owned an art gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida, and appreciates how art is integral to a community. She enjoys writing about the people of the Adirondacks.

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