X Ambassadors Return Home to Ithaca for Cayuga Sound Festival

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Key Points from Day One:

  • Roughly 50 fans were in attendance, filling up half the second floor ballroom.
  • Sam began by welcoming everyone, and shared stories about his childhood and Ithaca’s music scene.

Fans of X Ambassadors look on during the Q&A at the Marriott Hotel on the Commons

Ithaca natives, the X Ambassadors, returned home to host the first annual Cayuga Sound Festival. The famous rock group spent over a year planning the much-anticipated music festival with long-time local music promoter Dan Smalls.

Sam (lead vocals) and Casey (piano) Harris, kicked off their weekend with the Cayuga Sound Talk Series on Sept. 22 at the Ithaca Marriott Downtown on the Commons.

“Growing up in Ithaca was amazing,” Sam said. “There’s no place like this town. We’ve been all over the world now, and I can safely say that.”

Since making it on the big stage, the X Ambassadors have previously played at the State Theatre, but never at a local festival. After selling out the Theatre in less than three days, the band decided to host a larger event in their hometown.


The event was co-headlined by The Roots, with famous performers such as K.Flay, Tei Shi, Margaret Glapsy, Jukebox the Ghost, Crush Club, Savior Adore and Mail the Horst. There were also a trio of local bands that participated in the event. It was an all day procedure, beginning at noon on Saturday, ending after 10:30 p.m. ET.

“The vision was like how do we come back to Ithaca, and how do something that means so much to us,” Smalls, owner of Dan Smalls Presents, said at the Talk Series. “How do we give back to the places that meant something to us as a kid? Seth [Kallen, the X Ambassadors’ business manager] was like, ‘We’re going to do it for nothing. How about you?’ ‘Well, hell yeah. I don’t need to make any money. Let’s do this for the community.’”

Due to their success of the song “Renegades”, which was featured in the 2015 Jeep Renegade commercial, the X Ambassadors have gained a larger following.

Social Media Following:

  • 93 thousand Twitter followers
  • 89 thousand Instagram followers
  • 234 thousand Facebook likes

The X Ambassadors, joined by Ithaca promoter Danny Smalls are enjoying the bands return home.

The band has received notoriety from all over North America, fans from both the United States and Canada were in attendance for the events on Friday and Saturday. Kat King, a self-proclaimed “die-hard fan” of the band, made the trip from Detroit, MI to see the X Ambassadors perform in their hometown.

“The X Ambassadors have been my favorite band for years and years now,” King said. “I’ve seen them in my hometown so many times, and when they announced this, I bought tickets immediately. I had to come down. It’s a hike, but it’s worth it. I just want to support them and everything they do.”


Radio success of the band, which led to an increase in fans

King even convinced her friends Rebecca Wigston and Sarah Allegra, from Niagara Falls, Canada, to make the trip. The trio made the journey down to Ithaca for the X Ambassadors’ homecoming.

“I don’t like to listen to just any artist,” Wigston said regarding the band. “But, I really like the kind of people that they are, and that’s really a part of the reason on why I’m a fan of them now.”

Following the series of concerts on Sept. 23., officials confirmed that there will be a second Cayuga Sound Festival in 2018. The X Ambassadors took to social media and announced they will be back again in their hometown.

“We did it,” the band’s Instagram posted following the event. “First annual Cayuga Sound festival was a success. Thank you everyone who came yesterday was literally a childhood dream come true.”


About Author

Hi, my name is Dustin Albino and I'm a senior journalism student at Ithaca College. When away from school, you can find me at a racetrack near you covering the NASCAR schedule. I've been reporting on the sport for the past three seasons, and am hoping to move to Charlotte, NC upon graduation.

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