Sizzling music warmed up Wasaga Beach at the Fourth Annual Wasaga Beach Blues Festival at the Stonebridge Town Centre, Sept. 12 to 14. Thousands of music lovers from all over danced, boogied, and sang— and soaked up blues from a variety of Canadian and American musicians representing a mix of blues styles.
Fans started the weekend dining and dancing at the Boogie Woogie Blues Banquet at the Wasaga RecPlex. The Hogtown Allstars, featuring Chuck Jackson, Gary Kendall, Pat Carey, Mike Fonfara, Mike Fitzpatrick, and Teddy Leonard— plus Texassippi Soul Man Danny Brooks, Joe Murphy, and Chris Gill— brought guests to their feet.
The Blus Bros and the Stilt Guys, added to the fun, which continued into the night with more live music from Wayne Buttery & the Groove Project at the Beacon Restaurant.
All the action generated rave reviews on Twitter and Facebook.
Saturday in the Park
Early morning showers didn’t dampen the spirits of the musicians, fans and volunteers who donned coats and gloves to watch performances by Steve Hill, Chris Gill and Festival Express, plus Texassippi Soul Man Danny Brooks, The Weber Brothers, and Mad Dogs & Englishmen— the Music of Joe Cocker and Leon Russell on Saturday.
Just in time for Hill’s performance, the sun came out and the Montreal-based guitarist, who is highly-regarded, delivered a show that rocked the Stonebridge Town Centre and kicked of the Wasaga Beach Blues Festival on a strong, blistering note.
Chris Gill, a guitarist and singer who hails from Jackson, Mississippi, made his second visit to the Festival. Backed by an array of Canadian musicians including Joe Murphy and Lance Anderson, Chris Gill and the Festival Express had people dancing, soaking up the sun—when it did appear—and the sounds.
Texassippi Soul Man Danny Brooks delivered his popular mix of Texas blues and Mississippi blues accompanied by his wife Debi. Some of the songs he performed were from his latest CD Texassippi Soul Man.
As the sun set, the musical temperature rose, courtesy of The Weber Brothers from Maryland. Ryan and Sam Weber, along with Shai “Cookie” Peer, Marcus Browne and Rico Browne, who have worked with Ronnie Hawkins and became Hawks, performed a set that had the crowds wanting more.
Award-winning producer and keyboardist Lance Anderson created another highly-anticipated show: Mad Dogs & Englishmen – The Music of Joe Cocker and Leon Russell. The ensemble was comprised of Anderson, Chuck Jackson, Danny Brooks, Cheryl Lescom, Quisha Wint, Selena Evangeline, Kolette Easy, Terry Blersh, Howard Ayee, Michael Sloski, Shamakah Ali, Arturo Avalos, Simon Wallis, Dave Dunlop, and Matt Weidinger. Together they delivered soul-stirring renditions of “With a Little Help From My Friends” and “The Letter” and more: “Unchain My Heart” was the encore.
Boston Pizza and Wild Wing, both in the Stonebridge Town Centre, continued the vibe with live music until 2 a.m.
The Vendors’ Village, the Stilt Guys, The Blus Bros and the Wasaga Beach Cruisers contributed to the festive atmosphere.
Warmer temperatures and sunny skies prevailed on Sunday. Mark ‘Bird’ Stafford’s Junior Jam, which was popular last year, started the day. Several young people aged 10 to 17 joined Stafford, a harmonica player, Gary Kendall, Tyler Burgess, and Chris Burgess on stage during two sets.
The young people who participated in the Junior Jam: Henry Carter, James Caston, Aaron Kowalchuck Kaylee MacDonald, Rory MacDonald, and Korrina MacDonald, played and sang on the main stage with professional musicians. Many of the arrangements were made on the fly— that day. The Junior Jam gets young musicians in front of large crowds on main stages and helps them build their confidence.
Harmonica player, Carlos del Junco, showed the audience why he has won so many accolades including eight Maple Blues Awards. Joined by his backing band the Blues Mongrels, del Junco had the ever-increasing fans dancing along.
The Steve Strongman Band really got the crowds going with its brand of loud, high-energy blues-rock. Guitarist Strongman, a sharp- dressed man, jumped off the stage on to a table and played in the crowd. His set, featuring songs from his latest CD Let Me Prove It To
You left the fans wanting more and showed why he too has earned so many awards including a JUNO.
Recent JUNO award-winners the Legendary Downchild Blues Band capped off the festival on a high note, playing songs from their recent and award winning CD Can You Hear the Music. Fans flooded to the area in front of the stage and danced and sang along to new and classic Downchild songs. It was a performance that proved why Downchild is one of Canada’s leading blues bands.
The Blues has a new home in Wasaga Beach.