Big musical acts from today, others still strong from their heyday, and artists paying their dues and hoping to receive national attention, will perform over three stages during the 16-day Big E beginning Sept. 17.
“We have a wide range of artists representing so many genres of music and who will appeal to a broad demographic of fairgoers regardless of age,” said John Juliano, co-owner of Mellowship Entertainment, entertainment buyer for the Eastern States Exposition.
It all kicks off on opening day at The Big E Arena with Machine Gun Kelly with jxdn and Kennyhoopla, which is the only show among the eight scheduled for the stage that is already sold out.
Machine Gun Kelly has been around since the release of his 2012 rap debut “Lace Up.” It is only in the past two years that the rapper, singer/songwriter, guitarist and actor’s presence has exploded on the scene. He’s everywhere with girlfriend actress Megan Fox. At parties. And recording throughout the pandemic. His fifth album last September, “Tickets to My Downfall,” was a commercial success and placed him in the spotlight even more as he moved from rap to a pop punk sound. His soon to be released album, “Born with Horns,” is set to follow the same musical direction.
“We were looking at Machine Gun Kelly for the past couple of years speculating that he was too big for the Court of Honor Stage, but not big enough for The Big E Arena. We felt that this was the year to put him in the arena and then he broke loose…..we had no idea how big he was going to be,” said Mellowship Entertainment co-owner Anne-Alise Pietruska about taking a chance on the artist.
Not many Christian artists tour the Northeast, so fans of the genre can delight in the fact that Zach Williams with Corey Asbury of Bethel Music will appear at The Big E Arena on Sept. 19.
Williams has become one of CCM’s leading artists and songwriters by carving a niche with his singular blend of southern rock, country, and faith-filled songwriting, which quickly awarded him his first GRAMMY Award with his debut album, 2017′s “Chain Breaker.”
“We worked with Zach at the State Fair of Virginia when he was just bursting onto the scene and we felt going into 2020 that he was going to be the next big Christian artist,” Pietruska said.
Juliano noted this is the first year that all acts at The Big E Arena are paid ticketed shows, and also the first year that no country act is scheduled.
Country music star Brad Paisley canceled his planned performance on Sept. 24 at The Big E this fall.
“We still haven’t been able to fill that slot at this time, but country lovers can get their fill of the popular genre at the Court of Honor stage,” Juliano said.
Other performers at The Big E Arena include Billy Idol, Sept. 18; Flo Rida with Ying Yang Twins, Sept 25; Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Sept. 26; Goo Goo Dolls, Oct 1; A Day to Remember with Asking Alexandria & Point North, Oct. 2.
All shows begin at 7:30 p.m. except for A Day to Remember which begins earlier at 7 p.m.
Tickets are available at TheBigE.com and The Big E Box Office and include fair admission when purchased prior to the show date.
Currently 22 acts are scheduled to perform on the free Court of Honor Stage kicking off the first weekend of the fair with Tom Franek, popular musician with a fun-filled comedy act and who was named “Princess Cruises Entertainer of the Year” in 2018, Sept. 17-26; teen heartthrob Jesse McCartney, Sept. 17; Kameron Marloe, Sept. 18; and English blues rock band Foghat, Sept. 19.
Also, a blast from the past, R&B artists The Bar-Kays formed in 1966 will perform on the Court of Honor Stage, Sept. 24-26; alongside Don McLean, best-known for his 1971 hit song “American Pie,” Sept. 26; Big Brother and the Holding Company, considered as one of the original, first wave of psychedelic bands from San Francisco in the mid- to late-’60s, Sept. 29-30; and Lisa Lisa, part of the 1980′s urban contemporary band Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Sept. 29.
To satisfy those fairgoers who want their dose of country music, Southern rock country band The Outlaws will perform on Sept. 27-28, while Exile, originally a rock band that reformed themselves as a county act, will take the stage on Sept. 22-23.
From the early days of the British invasion in 1964, the Yardbirds will perform on the Court of Honor on Sept. 20-21. The Yardbirds made their first appearance in the area back in 1968, when they appeared at the Curry Hicks Cage on the UMass Amherst campus, including members Jimmy Page, Keith Relf, and Chris Dreja, who were co-billed along with The Association. Today the band is still led by Jim McCarty, the only original member remaining who performed on all of the group’s releases.
Several tribute shows will offer fairgoers an opportunity to enjoy the music of artists they have enjoyed for years, but may never had a chance to see live before they passed away. Among those shows on the Court of Honor Stage include Raniere Martin in the Donna Summer Experience, Sept. 20-21; The Everly Set, Sept. 27-Oct. 3; Kashmir: The Live Led Zeppelin Show, Oct. 1; and Tribute to The King performed by Taylor Rodriguez, Oct. 1-3.
“We try not to book tribute shows for those bands still touring because it begs the question why aren’t you booking the originals,” Pietruska said.
Other performers on the Court of Honor Stage include American contemporary swing revival and jazz band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Sept. 22; folk rock band 10,000 Maniacs, Sept. 23; rockers Plain White T’s, Sept. 25; Boston-based Ripe performing their mix of rock, funk, R&B, jazz and pop, Sept. 30; and rock band Hoobastank, Oct. 2.
For those fairgoers who want to catch and early glimpse of emerging artists hoping to make it big, The E Stage will host a mix of country, Latin and rock including Houston Bernard, Sept. 19; Eavesdrop, Sept. 22; Choco Band, Sept. 24; Amber Eyes, Oct. 1; Otan Vargas with special guest Ted Lewis, Oct. 2, and many others.
“Our area doesn’t have a good platform for up-and-coming original artists, who don’t think of coming to Western Massachusetts to cultivate their careers. So, we’re hoping to give them a large platform to introduce their music to a big crowd at the fair,” Pietruska said.
“Singer and songwriter Otan Vargas from the Philippines traveled to the United States in 2006. It was a video of him playing guitar and singing on YouTube that caught the attention of Aaron Lewis of Staind who ‘founded’ the singer from Manila and whose dad, Ted, will be performing with Otan on the E Stage,” Pietruska said.
As the fair comes to a close on Oct. 3, Juliano said that they “couldn’t have two different artists so far apart in style to end The Big E.
Rapper Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of RUN DMC will appear on the Court of Honor Stage on Oct. 3 at 8 p.m., while Styx with their defining mixture of rock and acoustic guitars and piano, melded with synthesizers for an unmistakable sound, will help close out the fair with their theatrical performance at 7:30 p.m. at The Big E Arena.
This content was originally published here.