Going into this years Bluesfest, I was a little disappointed in the lineup. To be honest, there were only five bands I was really excited about – Beth Hart, Gary Clark Jr, JJ Grey, Matt Anderson and Blondie. Looking back though, I also really enjoyed seeing bands including Don Felder, Styx, Foreigner, Procol Harum with the NAC Orchestra, No BS Brass Band, Selwyn Birchwood Band, Shane Dwight,John Mayall, Thornetta Davis, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, Darrell Nulisch, Sam Roberts Band and many others. Given the fact that I was there for 8 out of 10 days and had a great time each day, I will have to admit that the was indeed something for everyone on each and every day and that there are still a lot of blues at Bluesfest (I even missed some acts due to overlapping schedules). 8 days of great music, 27 different bands, and six new CD’s.
Some things that I thought worked well at this years event included the new entrance locations, closure of Vimy Place in front of the museum, inclusion of the museum as part of the festival grounds (no more bag searches every time you go to/from the museum for a show!), creation of the new plaza space, Pink (Womens) Portapoties, stage alignment and the Pop-up Bistro in the museum (good food, sit down meals, climate control).
Suggestions for next year include better use of the new plaza space (food vendors, mist area since the road has good drainage), move the wristband scanners from the Blacksheep museum entrance where they had no purpose to the actual site entrance on Vimy Place and move the food vendors away from the side of the Claridge stage as it’s still way too crowded when big acts such as Blondie play this stage.
Overall, it was a great festival, so kudos to Mark Monahan and the organizers for another great year! I’m already looking forward to the 21st edition of Bluesfest next year.