Our first year…Rick Estrin of Little Charlie and the Nightcats left his stage pants in San Francisco and had to make an emergency stop at a men’s wear store…a fierce lightning storm played out behind Deborah Coleman’s delayed set; we had a double rainbow over Buckwheat Zydeco and Ronnie Earl closed the inaugural weekend with a spellbinding, magical and spiritual show.
The Lone Star Shootout with Lonnie Brooks, Phillip Walker and Long John Hunter was a standout, while performances by The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Shemekia Copeland and hometown favourites Hot Cottage had the crowd jumpin’. Winnipeg’s Big Dave McLean, Calgary’s Tim Williams, and Toronto’s Rockin’ Highliners had us on our feet as proud Canadians.
Some people “didn’t get” Sleepy LaBeef, but he played his rockabilly blues like his life depended on it on a cool and damp Sunday afternoon. Legends Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin and Nappy Brown were in fine form, Janiva Magness made her Alberta debut and Dr. John closed things with a taste of N’awlins.
Roy Rogers and Charlie Musselwhite tore it up on Friday night; On Saturday we all met a couple who had flown in from New Zealand just for the festival; Terry Hanck made his first trip to Edmonton as did the late John Cephas and his partner in acoustic blues Phil Wiggins; CJ Chenier and Marcia Ball gave us a taste of the bayou and the late great Ike Turner showed us why he was one of the great showmen of the blues and an originator of Rock ’n’ Roll.
Mark Hummel brought us a blues harp blowout with James Harman and Snooky Pryor; Magic Slim made his first appearance at the festival; the late Ruth Brown performed her magic with Duke Robillard and John Hammond’s trio played songs by Tom Waits.
One of Canada’s best, Morgan Davis, opened things up and about halfway through his set he brought the rain that stayed with us all weekend. James Cotton and Lil’ Ed brought Chicago to Edmonton, while Steve James, Angela Strehli, the late Gary Primich and Jimmie Vaughan brought Austin to us. Jimmie was amazed that anyone was even at the show because it was raining and only +5. Edmonton fans showed their true love of the blues, and Jimmie stayed and signed autographs for 90 minutes after his show.
Our first sold out day was the Saturday of this year, a day that featured the first appearance in Alberta of The Mannish Boys with Johnny Dyer, Kid Ramos and Finis Tasby, along with Downchild, Mem Shannon and David Gogo. Friday featured the late Queen of the Blues, Koko Taylor, while on Sunday we were treated to unbelievable performances by Delbert McClinton, Zac Harmon and the Alberta debut of finger picking specialist Mary Flower. This was also the first year we sold out of weekend passes.
IBC winner Eden Brent kicked off another sold out Saturday, then made her way into the beer garden where she autographed shirts, bums and chests among other things. That day also included Jimmy Thackery, Reba Russell, Terrence Simien and The Hollywood Blue Flames. Acoustic Blues Music Award winners Billy Branch and Kenny Neal got us going on Friday and Billy Boy Arnold and Lee Oskar were part of another Blues Harp Blowout. Legendary Chess Records pianist Henry Gray played Sunday and The Chicago Blues Reunion closed things with an incendiary set that featured the smooth as butter vocals of Nick Gravenites and Tracy Nelson, along with the guitar of Harvey Mandel.
Both Saturday and Sunday were sold out this year (and why not!) with Los Lobos powering us into the night on Sunday and Fiona Boyes, Watermelon Slim, Jon Cleary and Nick Moss (all in their Alberta debuts) providing the sizzle on Saturday. Not to be outdone, in the drizzle of Sunday afternoon, East Coast bluesman Garrett Mason (son of the legendary Dutch Mason), showed us that the blues was in good hands. Weekend passes were all gone by mid June.
Our 10th birthday! Who’d a thunk it? The weekend sold out with performances by returnees Downchild, Marcia Ball and Lil’ Ed marking a Friday night that had picture perfect weather. Legends Pinetop Perkins and Hubert Sumlin were back, this time sitting in with the James Cotton Band on a sunny Saturday that also saw the return of Janiva Magness and the Mannish Boys. Ann Rabson sat in for DK Stewart (who couldn’t get across the border) on the “Pianorama”, a show that brought the house down and included pianists Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne and David Vest.
Moreland and Arbuckle, Arsen Shomakhov and the duo of Cedric Burnside and Lightnin’ Malcolm all made their Alberta debut at this years’ festival and impressed a sold out crowd who just couldn’t get enough. Arsen sold out of CD’s at the blues store in 15 minutes, while Cedric and Malcolm took about 40 minutes to pull off the same trick! By the time Tommy Castro and the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Revue were done they had pulled Sista Monica, Rick Estrin, Mark Hummell, Rusty Zinn, Chubby Carrier and Lightnin’ Malcolm on to the stage for what was an unbelievable jam to end Saturday night. Sista Monica had the crowd on its’ feet on Sunday for nearly her entire set, while John Hammond’s quartet closed the festival with class, talent and true blues feeling. Congratulations to Gail and Bill, 2 of our great volunteers who got married Saturday morning in the park then went to work.
Monkeyjunk, Candye Kane, Jimmie Vaughn, Tom Rigney and Flambeau, The Twisters, Henry Gray and the cats, Super Chikan and the Fighting Cocks, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, Bob Brozman, James Harman with Steve Kozaks West Coast All Stars, Boogie woogie Blowout with Mitch Woods, Caroline Dahl and Honey Piazza, Willie Big Eyes Smith band with special guest Bob Margolin, Curtis Salgado big Band
David Gogo, Reba Russell, Kim Wilsons Blues All Stars, Duffy Bishop Band, Dave Riley and Bob Corritore, Chubby Carrier and The Bayou Swamp Band, John Nemeth Soul Revue, Nick Moss and the Flip Tops with Special Guest Guitar Shorty, David Vest, Sean Carney Band, RJ Mischo with Mike Morgan and the Crawl, Diunna Greenleaf and Blue Mercy, Delta Groove Harp Blast
Moreland and Arbuckle, Duke robillard, Charlie Musselwhite, Steve Kozaks West Coast All Stars, Terry Hanck, Lionel Young Band, Lil Ed and The Blues Imperials, The Blues Broads featuring Angela Strehli, Tracy Nelson, Dorothy Morrison, Annie Sampson and Deanna Bogart, Ben Prestage, Tim Williams and the Electro-Fires with big Dave McLean, Victor Wainwright and the Wildroots, Rick Estrin and the Nightcats, Tommy Castro Band
Arsen Shomakhov, Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience, James Cotton with Roomful of Blues, John Primer & The Real Deal Blues Band, Big Pete van der Pluijm with Matt Schofield, Homemade Jamz Blues Band, Café R&B, Mannish Boys featuring Kirk Fletcher, Paris Slim Sugaray Rayford & Sugar Ray Norcia, Eden Brent, Monkeyjunk, Ana Popovic, Golden State-Lone Star Revue featuring Anson Funderburgh, Little Charlie Baty & Mark Hummel, North Mississippi All Stars
Front Porch Roots Revue, The Nighthawks, Robert Cray, Mississippi Heat, Jonn Del Toro Richardson and Sean Carney Band, The Cash Box Kings, Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers, Jim Byrnes with Steve Dawson and The Sojourners, David Maxwell, Fathead, Carolyn Wonderland, Eddie Shaw and the Wolfgang, Mavis Staples
Shaw Holt and the Teardrops, The 44s with Kid Ramos, Elvin Bishop, Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley, Mr. Sipp, Adrianna Marie and Her Groovecutters, West Coast All Stars Featuring Fred Kaplan, Junior Watson and Bob Corritore, Sugaray Rayford Big Band, Jimmy and the Sleepers with Big Dave McLean and Rusty Reed, The Rockin Highliners Reunion, Henry Gray with the West Coast all Stars, Janiva Magness, Canned Heat
Morgan Davis, Jack deKeyzer, Shemekia Copeland, Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett (guitarists of Little feat) with The New Orleans Suspects, Paul Oschers Austin All Stars, Fiona Boyes Trio, Jarekus Singleton, Dwayne Dopsie & The Zydeco Hellraisers, Paul James, Bobby Cameron, Sugar Brown, Laura Rain and the Caesars, Brandon Santini, Lil’ jimmy Reed with Bob Hall.