Here is how Bluesfest International works. Say you are in Windsor, Ont., on Friday, July 13, and you are just rockin’ out to Howling Diablos, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones with Monster Mike Welch, Stacy Mitchhart and Edgar Winter, as he closes out the night. Then you think to yourself, “Wow, I wish I could see that all again!” Well, gosh darn it, you can. Just jump into your car on Saturday, head up the 401 to London, Ont., and get yourself a ticket for Bluesfest International.
If you do that, mind you, back down in Windsor you will be missing Reverend Raven & the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Bobby Rush's Big Band and Alto Reed's Motor City AllStars with special guest Mark Farner on Saturday, most of whom played in London the previous evening. The question then becomes, do you stay in London for the Sunday and catch Jimmy Bowskill, Stevie T. and Kingtone, Front Street Blues Band, Howling Diablos (again) and Bobby Rush's Big Band (who you missed in Windsor)? Or do you whip back down the highway to Windsor to see Reverend Robert Sexton's All Star Blues Review, Mo' Blues (who came all the way from South America), Popa Chubby, Jimmy Bowskill and Brooks Family Blues Dynasty, who, unfortunately, are only playing the one fest?
Brooks Family Blues Dynasty at the 2011 Ottawa Blues Fest.
My unsolicited advice would be to park yourself on a lawn chair in one town or the other and chill out – or rock out.
Bluesfest International started in 1995 in Windsor. It soon spread to London. It is common for festivals in cities just a couple hours apart to share some of their respective acts through the weekend. The crazy thing about these two festivals is that virtually the entire roster of performers play both festivals. Talk about deja-vu.
Two added bonuses await you in Windsor, however. Canada South Blues Society, based in Windsor, is home to the only blues museum in the country. Its mandate is to promote and celebrate great blues artists and supporters, no matter their origin. Inductees to date include Jeff Healey, Big Dave McLean, Donnie “Mr. Downchild” Walsh, Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King, Kim Wilson, Johnnie Johnson, Powder Blues Band, Bobby Rush, Eric Burdon and CBC’s very own Holger Petersen, host of Saturday Night Blues.
The second bonus offered to those who take in Bluesfest International in Windsor is the opportunity to be on TV. Ameriblues.com’s 2012 Best Upcoming Blues Artist contest winner, Randy Scott, is filming episodes for his reality TV show, Chasing the Dream, during the festival. If you have always wanted to pretend to be an adoring fan on a reality TV show, this is your chance.
Most importantly, whether you take in the show in Windsor or London from July 13 to 15, you will be treated to some of the best blues in North (and South) America.
Holger Petersen’s top 10 blues festivals
Ottawa vs. Ottawa: Who has the bluesier festival?
Haikuing the blues, 3 lines at a time
on Jul 10, 2012