By Ken Wallis, Blues & Roots Radio
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Tim Horton’s Southside Shuffle
Well what a time it was. Tim Horton’s Southside Shuffle knocked it out of the blues park with some of the best music you could possibly hear.
A team of four from Blues and Roots Radio fanned out across the grounds in Port Credit to catch as many of the performances as possible. But let me tell ya, there’s so much going on, you just can’t see/hear everything. There’s just so much on the go. It’s like Haloween – except you go from stage to stage to get your latest treat of blues music.
It’s a huge undertaking that involves a ton of volunteers. And they don’t go unnoticed by the organizers. There’s a VOLUNTEER HALL OF FAME on the web site where they honour many of their dedicated volunteers. Classy move!
The Southside Shuffle is the brainchild of Chuck Jackson, lead singer from Downchild who also holds the position of Artistic Director. This year’s version featured Canadian musicians form coast to coast with bucket loads of awards.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so what’s coming has gotta be worth a million words cause we got a gold mine of pictures. We couldn’t get to every performance, but here’s some of the performers we saw.
We kicked it all off on Friday with Dan McKinnon
He was the recent winner of the Toronto Blues Society’s Talent Search and he had the chops to prove it. He’s in the process of getting a new cd out as follow up to his release, ASAP (As Sharp As Possible).
Then it was Michael Schatte who got the crowd tapping their toes to his tunes.
Next up was Juno award winner Steve Strongman who always puts on a powerhouse performance.
We had a quick listen to the Tonkas
And then it was on to catch a wonderful hour of music with the Canadian Blues All Stars…
With the likes of Chuck Jackson
Jack de Keyzer
And Colin Linden
Featuring an all star band of Teddy Leonard, Michael Fonfara, Gary Kendell, Pat Carey, and Mike Fitzpatrick this was a highlight show for any blues fan
Saturday saw the Street Fest begin and my oh my did the crowds come out .
A quick up and down the street and we caught some great blues. James Anthony was there highlighting some tunes from his newly released cd, On The Edge.
A short stroll down the street and around the corner, who did we come across but
Roly Platt blowing some sweet notes on his harp.
Then we watched Sean Pinchin, Juno nominee for his cd Monkey Brain.
Next up, I finally got to see Jenie Thai in action. She’s a budding star who sings and plays the keys with a passion and has already been nominated for a Maple Blues Award. She announced she’s working on a brand new cd – I can’t wait for that one!
The Blues just kept on comin’
Kenny Blues Boss Wayne took the stage and had everyone Jumpin and Boppin with his boogie music
And on the other stage Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whitely were doing their thing. I saw them recently at the Kitchener Blues Festival and once again, they had the audience captivated to their music
I should mention that at all times during the Shuffle, two stages are on the go every hour. When the two stages finish, the other two stages jump into the action. If you want to see as many artists as possible (which I wanted to do) you were constantly on the move.
Al Lerman entertained the crowd with his solo show
And the delightful Suzie Vinnick, along with Kevin Breit, showed us why she’s considered one of Canada’s blues gems.
Then it was time to get a hopping and race over to catch the award-winning music of Montreal’s Steve Hill.
We caught a few minutes of Durham Country Poets – great stuff by the way
And then Hamilton’s own, Harrison Kennedy pulled out his vintage banjo and laid down some amazing blues strums. Harrison is getting ready for a European tour and we were sure happy we saw him before he leaves.
A hop, skip and a jump away was the tribute to Mad Dogs an Englishman, the music of Joe Cocker and Leon Russel. And who better to cover that music than Cheryl Lescom, Lance Anderson and Matt Weidinger
Man was I getting tired. My fit bit told me we’d walked 6 miles already. But no rest for the wicked as it was time for Joel Johnson to take flight.
Joel’s trio featured Chris Nemeth on drums and Al Richardson on bass. Al Richardson for your information played with the renowned Mel Brown. Nuff said. This band is prepping for a new cd release in the winter.
And then, the moment I’d been waiting for. Dawn Tyler Watson. Three words that send a blues shiver down my spine. She’s at the top of the blues heap. She became the first ever woman and the first ever Canadian to win the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
And with her was another IBC winner, Ben Racine, who won for guitarist in a band. What a night of blues.
I realize I’m running out of space so I’ll have to keep the rest of this blog short.
I got the see the Ben Racine Band perform
Juno Award Winner Paul Reddick
Who had dynamo Sue Foley playing in the band.
Then Canada’s ambassador of the blues, two time juno winner, 7 times Maple Blues Winner, Jack de Keyzer and his band of professional wizards.
And Jack has just released a new cd, the Best of Jack de Keyzer, Volume One.
And then the Dog was on the loose as we heard Harpdog Brown and his Travellin with the Blues
And he brought along ‘his secret weapon Sugar Brown.
We also heard Hamilton’s Vaudevillian
The last two shows summed it all up.
Spencer MacKenzie winner of the Maple Blues Award for Best New artist played like a veteran
And the finale was with the Legendary Downchild Blues Band.
Tim Horton’s Southside Shuffle. What a weekend. What a festival. And what fun.
It was great talking with the artists, listening to the music and soaking up the blues that was wafting through the air.
But there was one more highlight. And that was meeting and spending time with Stevie and Anne Connor.
They run Blues and Roots Radio and you can’t find a nicer couple.
So if you haven’t already, tune into Blues and Roots Radio
You’ll love it
One last thought. How come the tall guys always get the gals?
The Stilt Guys