Issue 104

Cover Story, Mr. Chill Kelly Hoppe from Big Sugar and Edwin from I Mother Earth by DJ Telfer Photos by Trevor Booth.

LiUNA BLUESFEST WINDSOR

If you love blues rock, reggae, soul and hard-core blues, it’s time to “go for the music” at the 23rd annual LiUNA Windsor Bluesfest happening at the downtown festival plaza July 14-17.

“There will be non-stop music,” says Rob Petroni, president of LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor. “We’re going four nights with 30 bands, including ten local groups playing on two stages.”

Rob said they have added Thursday night to the schedule making this a four day event for the first time and he said they are installing a smaller second stage in the beverage tent which will be located just east of the plaza, opposite the main stage.

“We will have a larger tent this year and we will be setting up the smaller stage there,” explains Rob. “We will feature local musicians and keep the music playing between acts on the main stage. When nothing is happening on the main stage we hope people will make their way to the beverage tent and enjoy the music playing there along with the refreshments.”

Rob added, “it’s all about the music and the fan experience. We’ve made significant changes and improvements including a new food court with new vendors, 16 VIP tents with l.e.d. Logos and we have upgraded the lighting system. We also brought in one of the organizers of the Toronto SARS concert to offer his critique and suggestions and we have spent a great amount of time and energy putting together a line-up that is sure to generate a lot of anticipation and excitement.”

Rob says they also reached out to the die-hard blues aficionados at the Canada South Blue’s Society (the curators of the only Blue’s museum in Canada) and asked them to make up their wish list of artists they would love to see, “and then we went and got everybody on the list.” He said.

That list includes:

ERIC SARDINI
ANTHONY GOMES
DANA FUCHS
HOWLING DIABLOS
BIG SUGAR
I MOTHER EARTH W/ EDWIN
JEFF MARTIN
JODY RAFFOUL

...and many more.

This will be the 3rd year for LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor which was formerly Bluesfest International and under different management. Today, Rob says LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor is a non-profit, charitable event and 10% of the revenues go directly to T2B.

“We do not receive any grants,” he said, “the $500,000.00 needed to stage the event comes from ticket sales, corporate sponsors and beverage sales…we are on a very tight budget.”

Meanwhile, there is much unheralded activity and effort being exerted by a bunch of people who are volunteering an exhausting amount of time in preparation for this year’s festival.

“Our Executive Director is putting in 50 hours a week and she is the only one who has received any compensation” says Rob, “everyone else including our board of directors and our 25 non-board members are volunteers.”

The board of directors includes Rob Petroni; Walt Hanson; Jeff Casey; Cathy Zaharchuk and Carol Petroni is the Executive Director.

Rob pointed out that while he and his board of directors had little experience with festival promotions when they took over the event two years ago they have learned a great deal and for the things they do not know they seek out those who have more experience and knowledge. Industry insiders like Mike McCann from the Blues Society and well known local musician Jeff Burrows (Tea Party, Crash Karma) is the festival’s artistic director. Jeff said while he has played on some of the biggest stages around the world, this is his first behind-the-stage gig. It is an experience he embraces as he does everything in life — with great enthusiasm and unwavering commitment.

“The learning curve for Rob and the others has been substantial and they have acquired so much in such a short time.” Said Jeff “They asked me to lend my experience and knowledge to the team. I know what it takes to run a successful festival. And I know how the artists should be treated, the backstage protocols and etiquette and I think I can help create a real connection between the artists and the fans.”

Jeff has always been a big Windsor promoter and says along with the city’s great location, “this is an arts-filled town and the LiUNA Bluesfest is a world-class event!”

The theme for this year’s festival is “go for the music” which means, continual non-stop rhythm and blues on two stages, spiced with rock and roll and maybe a flirt or two with other genres. To help the festival grow and expand. It is as Jeff says, “all good music.”

Tickets are available on-line or at the following locations:

All Windsor Essex Scotia Banks
Shooter’s Roadhouse
South Detroit Restaurant
Long & McQuade

For more ticket information and to see this year’s complete line-up including short bios on featured artists check out the website www.windsorbluesfest.com

For on-line purchases without additional on-line service fees go to snapwindsor.com/bluesfest. Also, patrons should be aware of the do’s and don’ts before attending the festival plaza.

Do not bring any alcohol, coolers, shopping bags or large purses. Do not bring any chairs, contraband or weapons. No colours are permitted and no pets allowed except for Service animals. Smoking is allowed only in the designated area.

For all performances Thursday – Saturday, attendance is restricted to 19 years of age and older.

But once again the tradition continues – Sunday will be family day and everyone is welcome!

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