By Leith Dunick Thunder Bay Source
The British are coming! The British are coming!
No need for Paul Revere and his famous midnight ride though. These Brits are being welcomed with open arms as Thunder Bay gets set to host the third annual Blues Festival at Marina Park this weekend.
From Eric Burdon who gained fame in the House of the Rising Sun with the Animals, and Woodstock veterans Ten Years After, to keyboardist Roy Young, who turned down an opportunity from Paul McCartney and John Lennon to join the Beatles before they hit it big, festival president Barry Streib said music fans won’t know what hit them this weekend.
“They’ve got all that British era that they’re bringing to Canada for this year which to me is really cool because it’s part of the history of the tradition of blues and R&B that we’re going to be able to see in Thunder Bay. I don’t know how many times you get to have an opportunity to see folks like this,” said Streib, who hopes to see up to 21,000 people pass through the turnstiles from the time local act The Blues Berries open the show on Friday afternoon until the ghostly Edgar Winter closes things down late Sunday night. Last year’s festival attracted
Other recognizable names on the bill this year include Canned Heat, whose memorable 1969 song Goin’ Up the Country became the unofficial theme at Yasgur’s Farm, Nova Scotia’s Matt Minglewood, John Lee Hooker Jr., Big Walter Smith, The Groove Hogs and Larry McCray.
Streib said picking the lineup is never an easy task. The first year, which featured Colin James and Jeff Healy, Dave McLean and Rita Chiarelli among others, was an introduction to the genre to get the community into what they were trying to accomplish.
Last year’s show brought the event up another notch on the electricity metre and Streib said one just had to look at the reaction of David Gogo, the most talked about artist from a year ago (who is performing once again in 2004), to understand the importance of the headlining act to the music world.
“There’s David Gogo at the side of the stage watching Dicky Betts perform. As accomplished a guitar player as David Gogo is, he was in absolute awe of Dicky Betts, to the point where he stood facing one of our volunteers who was taking a picture of David Gogo and he wanted to make sure that Dicky Betts was in that photograph because then he could and say ‘I was like 20 feet away from my idol,’” said Streib, recalling one of his more memorable moments of the first two years of the Blues Festival.
When asked who he’s most looking forward to seeing, the giddy Streib mentioned almost everyone on the bill, though he admitted he will do his best to catch the entire set by Burdon and the New Animals. It will likely be the only complete show he sees as festival obligations will keep him tied down the rest of the weekend.
“I grew up with that British Invasion when I was a youngster about 10 years old. I’ll never forget the first time I heard House of the Rising Sun. As much as I was a Beatles fan at the time, there was a different type of edge to the type of music Eric and his band were bringing. It was really blues influenced and you could hear it. Whereas the Beatles took a lot of blues tunes and kind of made them more of a pop sound, as good as that was, Eric brought a little bit of an edge to it,” said Streib.
Streib also hopes to find a few minutes to check out personal faves such as native blues artist Billie Joe Green, Gogo and Big Dave McLean.
As for a sleeper, Streib said festival attendees should make sure they catch The Groove Hogs on Saturday night, who take the stage just prior to Ten Years After. He caught the band at a festival in Windsor last year and said they stole the show, forcing blues legend Buddy Guy to put on the performance of his life just to compete.
For attendees who can only commit to one of the festival’s three days, Streib said day three is definitely the day to come out.“If you’re into a nice relaxing mood, you’ve got a whole day of just wonderful music. There’s not a dud in the whole lineup – not that there’s a dud the entire weekend,” he said.
As always the Blues Festival will also be a chance for local performers to reach a new audience. For the third year in a row a local performer has been asked to open the show each day. This year, in addition to the Blues Berries on Friday, Bourbon Haze and Dave Jonasson will have the opportunity to reach a new audience and showcase the burgeoning blues community here at home.
“These are really important bands that we need to showcase as much as we can,” said Streib, adding the performers were chosen at last November’s Northwest Blues Showecase held at the Community Auditorium. “We needed to give these bands an opportunity to showcase themselves.” A weekend pass for the Thunder Bay Blues Festival goes for $38. Daily passes cost $20. Tickets are available at the Community Auditorium box office, at the United Way (623-6420), the Northern Cancer Research Foundation (345-HOPE) and from the Thunder Bay Blues Society at 475-4597. A free shuttle service from the Community Auditorium will run from 4 p.m. until midnight on Friday and from 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturday and Sunday.
Parking is not available on site at Marina Park, except for those bearing handicapped stickers.
Friday, July 9
5:20 p.m. The Blues Berries
6:30 p.m. Jack de Keyzer & The Reverb Rockers
8:00 p.m. Larry McCray
9:45 p.m. Eric Burdon and the New Animals
Saturday, July 10
12:30 p.m. Bourbon Haze
1:45 p.m. Dave McLean
2:40 p.m. Billie Joe Green
4:00 p.m. David Gogo
5:20 p.m. John Lee Hooker Jr.
6:40 p.m. Professor Louie & the Crowmatixs with Tom “Bones” Malone
8:10 p.m. The Groove Hogs
9:45 p.m. Ten Years After
Sunday, July 11
12:20 p.m. Dave Jonasson
1:00 p.m. Matt Minglewood
2:00 p.m. Roy Young & the Reverb Rockers
3:35 p.m. Renee Austin
4:55 p.m. Lamont Cranston
6:25 p.m. Canned Heat
8:00 p.m. Big Walter Smith
9:45 p.m. Edgar Winter