There are many who are quite content to bask in the summer splendour of what Windsor, Canada has to offer along its marvellous riverfront. From the spectacular Red Bull Air Races to the world renown International Freedom Festival fireworks display, the city has much to offer citizens during its busiest season.
However, the one event which is certain to attract music fanatics not only locally, but throughout the bordering city of Detroit, Michigan, is this year’s 15th Annual Bluesfest International. Its creator Ted Boomer is no stranger to both business and music. With a series of successful nightclubs (Danny’s Canadian Nightclub, California’s Musical Roadhouse and Johnny Canuck’s) spanning the early 80’s to the mid 90’s, he has brought both Canadian and U.S. attention to his flair for crafting more than just your average watering hole.
Aside from his list of countless accolades including the production of 2 PBS and 3 MTV television specials, Boomer is largely identified for his commitment to blues music. His prize possession Bluesfest International, now in its 15th year, has grown to become the 10th largest of over 650 blues festivals in North America. With roughly 30,000 attendees annually the event has raised roughly $600,000 for local non-profit organizations to date as confirmed by Bluesfest organizers Sheryl Davies and John Liedtke. When asked why he chose to promote blues music he passionately states, “Well it’s rooted and everything grew out of the blues - rock, country, jazz - it all came from there. It’s old-school.”
As a well-recognized independent concert promoter, Ted along with his wife Louise Knowles (co-owner of Bluesfest International) founded the Canada South Blues Society in 1999 which to date consists of over 400 members and has organized and presented in excess of 100 shows.
Boomer’s most distinguished honour however was bestowed upon him in 2006 when he received the Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Promoter of the Year. Being the only Canadian to have received the award in its 22 year history brought even more awareness to the occasion. This highly sought-after honour is rewarded to non-performers by a select panel of highly qualified blues experts. “Blues is very grounded”, states Boomer. “ It was never in style, yet it never goes out of style.”
Beginning Thursday, July 16 through Sunday, July 19 at the Riverfront Festival Plaza the Bluesfest will host a wide range of blues-rooted artists. With each evening concluding with a main act preceded by other local and international performances, patrons may purchase tickets for each day individually or an entire 4-day pass. Boomer claims, “Festivals are different than concerts in that you’ll see many acts as apposed to one or two and pay the same price….it’s an experience, not just a show.”
Initial headliners Los Lonely Boys bring their unique style of Texican rock ‘n’ roll as they embark on their first ever Canadian tour. The three Garza brothers from San Angelo, Texas combine elements of blues, rock, country and Tejano. Their debut platinum hit “Heaven” was #1 on Billboard as they are now supporting three studio albums.
The band responsible for creating the “Motown Sound” are Friday’s main act. The Funk Brothers provided the instrumental and vocal backing for such musical icons as Diana Ross, The Supremes, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye. Also Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winners, this year marks the 50th Anniversary of Motown and the Bluesfest is proud to welcome this coveted act to their stage.
Though they were known as the bad boys of rock ‘n’ roll the music of The Rolling Stones was heavily based on the blues. While still a teenager, Mick Taylor, Saturday’s headliner, joined The Stones, replacing the departed Brian Jones. He was present during The Stones’ biggest albums including Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, Goat Head Soup and It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll.
The event’s closing evening brings to its stage 1988 Blues Foundation Hall of Famer Johnny Winter. Referred to as Muddy Waters’ adopted son, Winter has been a guitar hero to many for over 30 years. Best known for his southern style of rock ‘n’ roll guitar his thick tones, aggressive attack and masterful technique are sure to stun listeners. Culminating sounds of T-Bone Walker, Albert Collins, Billy Gibbons and Stevie Ray Vaughn, Johnny Winter will leave Windsor anticipating the return of this fantastic musical journey.
For more information on the 15th Annual Bluesfest International including a complete itinerary of entertainment, information on the bands and a link to purchase tickets visit www.thebluesfest.com.