Blues Source #9
By Ken Wallis, Blues & Roots Radio
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The Blues Equals Quality Music
Recently MSN.COM posted the 19 worst albums of all time, according to critics. The good news. There wasn’t one blues album on the list of duds. Once again, proof the blues are alive and well and bringing you sounds that are professional and well produced. Canada is fortunate to have some of the best blues musicians in the world.
The Kitchener Blues Festival
I wish I could go to every blues festival in Canada. But it’s just not possible. I haven’t figured out how to clone myself yet, and that’s probably a good thing.
But I did get to the Kitchener Blues Festival for a few days and it was well worth it. Apparently the Thursday night kick-off with Mike Todd and Matt Weidinger, the Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer, and then the Sheepdogs was one heck of roaring success.
The Friday night featured some of the worst weather possible with tornado warnings and heavy rainfall. Most concerts went off as scheduled but in the evening the stages had to be shut down. From all reports it was handled with great professionalism and care for everyone involved. A BIG SALUTE to the organizers.
Commitments kept us away until Saturday, but two days attending more than sated our appetite for the blues.
The festival is held in downtown Kitchener with 3 Main Stages plus all kinds of 12 Bar Blues in pubs and restaurants at 11:00. Much of the area is closed to traffic with all kinds of street food vendors and boutique merchants set against a large array of restaurants and shops.
Access to two of the stages require a security check before entering. In this day and age that’s more than smart. Everyone was professional and courteous.
If anyone thinks the blues is waning, all that have to do is look at the crowds that attended.
We were held up getting there Saturday and were disappointed we missed Jenie Thai. But that pang passed quickly as we caught up with Sean Pinchin doing some wicked slide work and some tunes from his latest cd, Monkey Brain.
Next stop was to listen to Catl, a hard-driving sound out of Toronto
with Sarah Kirkpatrick on drums and Jamie Fleming laying the chops on guitar
A picture says a thousand words and I’ll let these do the talking.
Just keep this band in your mind – they’re going places.
Then Matt Weidinger sat down at the keys and the music just started flowing. The vocals and keyboard mixed seamlessly as the Kitchener native showed he was happy to be performing at his home town’s festival.
Then it was time to hot-foot it to catch some Shawn Kellerman. If you need a hit of raw power from a blues guitarist this is the man to watch.
At this point, I kinda figured I had done more walking than any human could possibly do. But this was only the beginning.
Next up at the other end of town was Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whitely.
Holy Crap did they knock me on my butt. What a duo. She sang like a woman possessed
and Chris shredded his guitar in the same fashion.
To put it mildly, they’re a better dynamic duo than Batman and Robin.
Just as I was feeling relaxed it was time to head, once again, to the other end of town. The destination was a complete performance of the album STINK UP: 1969’s classic album by McKenna Mendelson Mainline. It was Mike McKenna and the Sidewinder Blues Band and I could hear them half way down the street. Wow did it bring back memories.
Then it was time for the maestro David Wilcox at the Downtown Stage. It was the biggest crowd yet and you could barely find a place to stand.
We stood in front of the Japanese restaurant and after a while got in the lineup to eat. What a cool way to wait in line watching David Wilcox perform.
The food in the Japanese restaurant was a good as any we’ve eaten.
After filling our bellies it was back outside to catch Lurrie Bell, son of blues legend Carey Bell
Then once more off to the other end of town to see Rick Estrin and the Nightcats. Boy does this cat know how to put on a show with his harmonica and a flashy, shiny silver suit that looked like it belonged on a space mission. He brought along his just released cd.
GROOVIN IN GREASELAND
One look at the fit bit told me we had walked 6 miles. End of day one for sure. Just couldn’t do anymore.
Day two was supposed to be a lighter day, but the blues just kept a comin. After a breakfast of eggs benedict, we were ready to rock.
First up was a quick glimpse of Elliot and the Audio Kings.
Then on to see Hamilton’s Smoke Wagon Blues Band. This band is making great leaps and bounds with their new cd Cigar Store
Then on to see another Hamiltonian, Ginger St. James who had her boots on to make sure the blues came across
We stuck around for the music of Etta James and boy was it worth the wait! Cheryl Lescom had everyone out of their seats applauding and cheering. She was terrific! Flanked by Quisha Wint and Danica Guenette, the trio made music that would’ve made Etta proud.
Then Crystal Shawanda. The one-time country singer, turned blues artist was absolutely amazing. She can carry a tune that rivals the best of them
Unfortunately we couldn’t stick around for Bobby Rush ☹ but nevertheless, it was a wonderful weekend. I got to re-connect with some folks, Corey Lueck of Smoke Wagon Blues Band, Bruce Hall of the Grand River Blues Society, and of course the best blues publicist in Canada, Sarah French. And a big thanks to one of the main organizers Claude Cloutier for all his help!
One last thought on the Fesitval. It was heartening to see so many folks buying cds and artist merchandise in support of the musicians.
HARPDOG ON THE PROWL
Harpdog Brown is off on another one of with his Traveling Blues Tours. He’ll be appearing in numerous locations across Canada.
The Dog touches down in Hamilton for a very special show for a very important cause.
He appears at The Pearl Company September 9th for a special performance for a fundraiser in support of Hamilton Food Share. It’s been labelled No Need For Hunger.
He’s joined by Sugar Brown to bring you an evening of some serious classic blues music.
The audience is asked to bring a non-perishable food item for the Hamilton Food Share. Tickets are available at https://www.ticketscene.ca/events/18821/
Next week we’ll have more blues news and information for you. In the meantime, keep boppin’ to the blues!