Story by Rod Charles
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor
KITCHENER, ONTARIO — Waterloo Region is getting ready to “take care of some business“. Don’t worry, “American women” are welcome — I’ll even “take you there!” Trust me, you’ll be a “dancin’ fool” when this is all over.
Okay, I know — that is easily one of the cheesiest and most painful openings in travel journalism history but I don’t care. It’s hard not to be a little ridiculous when you learn that Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman will be two featured acts at the 15th annual TD Kitchener Blues Festival, which will take place August 6-9, 2015.
Anniversaries ending in a 0 or 5 are always special, and this year the festival is pulling out the stops. Rob Deyman, executive director of the TD Kitchener Blues Festival and one of the founders who has been with the organization since the beginning, says attendees will be blown away by the talent this year.
“I think it’s probably our best lineup ever. We’ve got the highest profile artists that have ever appeared at our festival,” said Deyman, who announced the lineup at a packed house in Kitchener last week. “We have a wonderful mix of straight on beat blues performers, everyone from James Cotton, Watermelon Slim, Nick Moss to really great crossover roots performers to cross over rock and blues performers like Edgar Winter.”
Big Names Heading for Kitchener
Among the featured acts announced were some names that are well known to music lovers around the world. Born in Winnipeg, Bachman co-founded iconic bands The Guess Who and Bachman‐Turner Overdrive, earning over 120 gold and platinum albums/singles around the world as a performer and producer, and amassing more than 40 million in record sales. His hits include “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” “American Woman,” “Let it Ride, “Taking Care of Business,” “Looking Out for #1,” “No Sugar Tonight” and “These Eyes.”
Cummings is another outstanding catch that is sure to thrill audiences. A member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Canadian Walk of Fame, a multiple Juno Award winner and a recipient of the Order of Canada, Cummings needs no introduction. With Canada’s original rock ‘n roll superstars The Guess Who, Cummings teamed with Bachman to score a lengthy string of international hit singles and albums.
“We’ve got fabulous Canadian names, certainly the two ticketed shows, the headliners Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman are a fabulous one-two punch,” said Deyman. “But we’ve coupled them with some amazing US groups that have very, very devout followings. The Devon Allman Band and the North Mississippi Allstars, who have almost a cult following across North America. Other great Canadians of course include David Wilcox and The Legendary Downchild Blues Band.”
The Legendary Downchild Blues Band was the inspiration for Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi’s fabulous creation, The Blues Brothers — they recorded Downchild’s “Shotgun Blues.” The band is an institution in their homeland, and revered by blues fans around the world.
Hit-making Musicians Head to Ontario Fest
Other Canadian acts appearing at the event include Kitchener-Waterloo band Soultack, who received a 2014 Maple Blues Award nomination for “Electric Act of the Year” and “Drummer of the Year.” Current Swell, a band based in Victoria, British Columbia, will also perform. David Wilcox who made his name as a wild, live performer and then as a first-rate recording artist with work like “Out Of The Woods” (1980) to “Boy In The Boat” (2007), will also draw a crowd.
Someone else to keep your eye on is David Gogo, one of Canada’s most prolific blues guitar virtuosos who has earned four Juno nominations. Mavis Staples, a voice behind great songs such as “I’ll Take You There” and “Keep On Pushing,” has more than cemented a legacy as one of the most distinctive voices in American music.
Deyman says one of the other cool things about the festival is that it’s located in the downtown area of the largest city within the region, so people can discover what’s happening and enjoy attractions that the whole Waterloo Region has to offer, including African Lion Safari and Bingeman Park.
“I think one of the greatest opportunities is to see the depth and the breadth of blues music over a complete four-day period. You can see virtually every style, every type of performance within the blues genre,” says Deyman, who is expecting to draw a record 160,000 visits during the festival. “One of the really cool things is almost 95 per cent of the performances are free admission. We have two concerts on Thursday and Friday, and then all the rest of the performances Friday to Sunday including the 12 Bar Blues after shows are free admission. So it’s a really great opportunity to see top flight acts for free.”
Okay, enough cheese. I’ll stop.
MORE ABOUT TD KITCHENER BLUES FESTIVAL
Dates: August 6-9, 2015
Cost: Festival is free admission at multiple stages from Friday August 7th to Sunday August 9th. There are two ticketed concerts: the Kick-off Thursday concert August 6th and the Friday concert August 7th at the Clock Tower Stage in Victoria Park.