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Mark your Calendars: Blues BBQ turns 20

Twenty years ago, we celebrated Hudson River Park’s first summer with local barbecue and soulful blues music along the Hudson River—inaugurating an annual (and tasty) tradition. Now in its 20th year, Blues BBQ has become one of HRPK’s signature free summer events, and this year’s set to be a big one! Join us at Pier 97 Saturday, August 24 as we celebrate two decades of tremendous performances and sizzling BBQ.

Did you know that 86 artists have taken the Blues BBQ stage since 2000? This list includes some all-time greats: guitarist Coco Montoya; percussionist and vocalist Cyrille Neville; New Orleans’s Dirty Dozen Brass Band; Hubert Sumlin—one of Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”; blues harmonica player James Cotton; innovative vocalist, John Lee Hooker Jr.; Koko Taylor, known as “The Queen of the Blues”; Odetta, often-dubbed “the Voice of the Civil Rights Movement”; five-time Grammy winner, Robert Cray; electric blues vocalist, Shemekia Copeland; singer-songwriter and film composer, Taj Mahal; blues and rock musician, Tinsley Ellis—and many more.

This year’s performers will take our artist count to an impressive 91…and they’ll do it in style. Kevin Burt brings Iowa Blues roots and outstanding vocals. The World Famous Harlem Gospel Choir have performed for three presidents, two popes and now you at Blues BBQ. AJ Ghent [j-ent] fuses blues, funk, rock and pop into a fresh, electrifying genre he calls NEO BLUES. Three-time Grammy nominee Ruthie Foster spans genres with powerful performances. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe is known for their contagious spirit, and front-man Karl Denson is also the touring saxophonist for The Rolling Stones.

While these talented artists take the Blues BBQ stage, beloved NYC grill masters will be serving up delicious BBQ. This year’s restaurants include: Blue Smoke, Butcher Bar, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue, and you can drink it all down with seasonal brews from Sixpoint.

As anyone who’s taken part in Blues BBQ over the past two decades can attest, this event has a soulful, celebratory energy all its own—free for all to enjoy. We can’t wait to ring in 20 years of Blues BBQ with you on August 24! Until then, enjoy some of our favorite photos of this beloved event from over the years.

Just a few of our incredible performers:

A guitarist sings and laughs during a performance at Blues BBQ in Hudson River Park

Odetta, queen of the blues performs at Blues BBQ in Hudson River Park

Another performer holds his mic and passionately sings the blues

That delicious BBQ:

Dinosaur BBQ brings their game on with bbq ribs at Blues BBQ

Park visitors enjoy the ribs at Blues BBQ in Hudson River Park

A server of the bbq ribs take great care in slicing the meat at Blues BBQ in Hudson River Park

Blues fans, assemble:

A crowd of Blues enthusiast sit on the lawn waiting the performance to beginA couple decide to start dancing during the Blues performance at Blues BBQ in Hudson River Park

Everybody’s dancing to the music!Park visitors turn on the heat and dance until the sun sets at Blues BBQ in Hudson River Park

A couple enjoys a slower dance at Blues BBQ in Hudson River Park

Dancing is for the young at heart at Blues BBQ in Hudson River Park