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Father and son drum up interest for Blues in the Bay

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ALEXANDRIA BAY — Opportunity is knocking this weekend at the 13th annual Blues in the Bay festival for a father and son who play drums.

Garnet A. Grimm, Syracuse, has been drummer for Kim Simmonds’s Savoy Brown band since 2009. The 1983 graduate of Carthage Central High School joins Mr. Simmonds on guitars, keyboard, harmonica and vocals and Pat DeSalvo on bass. Savoy Brown is one of the longest, continuously running blues/rock bands in the world.

The band is the headliner for Blues in the Bay and the festival’s final act. It performs at 6 p.m. Sunday. The five-day festival began Thursday night and concludes Monday with an “all-star jam session” from 1 to 4 p.m.

The Double Barrel Blues Band opens for Savoy Brown at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. The band’s drummer is Garnet C. Grimm of Carthage, the father of Garnet A.

“We don’t get to do something like this very often,” Garnet C. Grimm said. “It’s the first time that I can remember, unless we went to a jam session or something like that. But as far as the bands playing in the same venue — this is a big deal.”

The Double Barrel Blues Band has been together five years and has opened for other national acts. For the past three years, the group was named best blues band at the Upper State Independent Awards.

In addition to Garnet C. Grimm on drums, the band features Mark Cloutier and John Hart on guitar and Bill Satterly on bass.

The younger Mr. Grimm said he was inspired musically by his father. “They were always around,” he said of his dad and fellow musicians.

The elder Mr. Grimm continued to play drums after he left Watertown High School and has been doing so ever since. The 60-something drummer is now retired from a batch of day jobs.

“I play and promote the blues and live the blues,” Garnett C. Grimm said.

Garnet A. Grimm also played drums throughout his school career. After graduating from Carthage Central School in 1983, he did a stint in the Army, where he put his drumming on hold. In 1993, he graduated from Onondaga Community College, Syracuse.

“The intention was to go on to get a teaching degree, but my desire to play kind of outweighed my desire to stay in school,” Garnet A. Grimm said this week from his Syracuse home. “So I started to play out professionally in the region and the state of New York with different bands, mostly blues and blues/roots bands. I got to know different musicians and players from around the city of Syracuse and the state.”

Garnet A. Grimm recorded a solo project with Mr. DeSalvo, bass player for Savoy Brown, about a dozen years ago. That association helped him when Mr. Simmonds needed a drummer for his band in 2009.

“I’m kind of following my dream,” Garnet A. Grimm said. “I’ve been fortunate to stay busy doing something I love.”

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Savoy Brown, formed by Mr. Simmonds in 1965, helped launch the British rock-blues movement and was part of the “British blues explosion” in the U.S. in the 1960s. There is no Savoy Brown. In 2003, Mr. Simmonds, who lives in Oswego County, told Entertainment magazine that the band’s name is a combination of Savoy Records and several blues artists with the last name of Brown.

“Blues and rock ’n’ roll is an American kind of art form,” Garnett A. Grimm said. “It was a lot of those British guys (such as Eric Clapton and bands like Cream) that were fusing American blues with this hard edge rock ’n’ roll sound at the time. Savoy Brown was part of that.”

And while Mr. Simmonds has been a constant, there have been several changes in band members over the years. In 1971, some original members of the band left and formed the band Foghat. Mr. Simmonds, who was born in Wales, moved Savoy Brown to the United States in the 1970s.

In almost four decades of performing, the band has released more than 30 albums. It’s one of the few blues bands that have had constant commercial success.

The group’s latest album is “Songs From the Road.”

The band has always been known for its energetic shows and it maintains an active touring schedule.

“We’re still out there reaching new audiences and connecting with older audiences as well,” Garnet A. Grimm said. “When you have a band together for that long, it’s interesting to see the dichotomy happening. You’ll see people come out with their grown kids.”

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The elder Mr. Grimm is an organizer of the annual Blues in the Bay, which was created by Michael John Cavallario, owner of Cavallario’s Steak and Seafood House on Church Street. During the festival, which many attendees call an annual end-of-summer party, part of James Street is closed to vehicles and a large tent covers the stage, scattered picnic tables and foldable chairs. The bands play rain or shine.

The festival is sponsored by the Alexandria Bay Chamber of Commerce.

“We have blues for everybody,” Garnet C. Grimm said.

THE DETAILS
WHAT: The 13th annual Blues in the Bay
WHEN/WHERE: Concerts are performed at Upper James Street in downtown Alexandria Bay.
THE SCHEDULE:
6 p.m. today: Ron Spencer Blues Band
1 p.m. Saturday: Morris and the Hepcats
3:30 p.m. Saturday: Tom Townsley and the Backsliders
6 p.m. Saturday: Los Blancos
1 p.m. Sunday: String of Pearls
3:30 p.m. Sunday: Double Barrel Blues Band
6 p.m. Sunday: The headliner, Kim Simmonds’s Savoy Brown band
1 to 4 p.m. Monday: “All-Star Jam Session”
COST: Free
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