18th annual NYS Blues Fest Saturday and Sunday

Electric & acoustic: Guitarists Kim Simmonds and John Hammond headline the Festival

While both Kim Simmonds and John Hammond rose to prominence during the mid-1960s, they represent two totally different spectrums of the blues. As Savoy Brown bandleader, Simmonds wails on electric guitar, while Hammond -- primarily a solo performer -- coaxes the blues from acoustic and National Reso-Phonic guitars.

Simmonds, 61, will front Savoy Brown, the band he founded in London in 1965, on the first night of the 18th annual New York State Blues Festival at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 11, in Clinton Square. That same day, former Blues Brothers harmonica hotshot Dan Aykroyd will act as the festival's master of ceremonies.

On Sunday, July 12, Hammond's quartet will play the final set of the festival's 17 live performances over the two days.

Admission is free to the two-day festival sponsored by Budweiser beer.

Born in South Wales, Simmonds has lived in Upstate New York for three decades. He recently augmented his stage gear with an old Ibanez Destroyer 2 guitar.

"I've had the guitar since the 1980s when it first came on the market," he said. "I replaced the pick-ups with a pair of vintage PAFs from the 1950s, and the guitar has a nice biting tone."

Simmonds revisits Savoy Brown's golden days by using Twin Reverb as he did, to excellent effect, in the 1970s. "It doesn't color my sound so much as the previous amplifiers I was using, good as they are, and I feel my touch on the guitar comes through more," he said. "It's a cleaner sound which means I have to work harder at playing. In the process I think my personality comes out more."

The most recent version of Savoy Brown also features Brooklyn-born bassist Gerry Sorrentino and Long Island drummer Mario Staiano.

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