ABBA and Blues!

On Tuesday evening, instead of a trip to Bluesfest on a rainy evening, I tried something a little different for a change – a Tribute to ABBA at Shenkman Arts Centre.  While I found the fake accents a little cheesy at times, I did find the entire experience fun and very entertaining.  The group knows their stuff and were very good at keeping the audience engaged.  Given that both shows were sold out, I would say this event was a big success.

Yesterday was my third day at my limited Bluesfest experience and I had a great time.  I did have some second thoughts about my decision to only go three days as it would have been great to see some of the acts on other days such as Nick Moss, Low Rider, Larry McCray, Dropkick Murphys, Canned Heat, Drew Nelson, Lurrie, Bell, Walter Trout, Current Swell and a number of other great acts, but my time, energy and funds were needed for other projects this year.

The first act of the day yesterday was the Bruce Katz Band in the reconfigured Theatre.  In previous years they had the metal stands in place which provide a good view of the stage, but can be very noisy when people arrive late or leave early.  This time it was configured like a night club (think NAC Fourth Stage), which made it easier for people to move around and even get up and dance if they wanted to.   I first heard about Bruce from his playing on a Bryan Lee CD and he certainly proved in this show that he is a fantastic keyboard and organ player.  I would definitely see him again if the opportunity presents (which it did sooner than I expected).

Next up was one of my favorite up and coming bands – The 24th Street Wailers.  If you love 50’s and 60’s rock and roll, you will certainly love this band.  This is the second time I’ve seen them this year and both times have been amazed at how much energy they put into the show – especially Jonny Wong who even toured the crowd playing his sax on one song.  Since it was Blusesfest, they also took advantage of the Texas Horns for a few songs which made the experience even better!

The third act of the day for me was the Tribute to David Maxwell.  David passed away earlier this year after losing his battle with cancer.  It was only fitting that there be a tribute to this great keyboard player at Bluesfest as he’s been a fixture there for many may years.  It was also fitting that Bruce Katz, another great keyboard player, be part of this tribute along with the Texas Horns.  Bluesfest just won’t be the same without David sitting in on sets, playing his own sets or just spotting him on the grounds checking out the other acts.  RIP David Maxwell.

The Randy Bachman singalong was the next act of the day (even the younger members of the crowd were singing along to his songs) and it was great to see this “architect of Canadian Rock n’ Roll” once again, along with his new band and it’s “Heavy Blues” sound.  A great nostalgia trip for sure.

I finished out the day watching a great set by my favorite local band, MonkeyJunk.  I’ve loved this band since I first heard them in 2008 and have seen them every year since.  They have a new album coming out in the fall, so it was good to hear some of their new tracks in the set list.  I’m looking forward to seeing them again on Saturday at the Kemptville Live Music Festival as well as picking up their new album when it’s released.

Overall, I’m very happy with the three days of Bluesfest . Of the list of acts on my Concert Wishlist, Bluesfest managed to bring in five of them and I saw three of them on the days I attended.  Hopefully next year will be even better.

Next up is the new Kemptville Live Music Festival next weekend.  They have some great acts all three days that range from Tom Cochrane and Red Rider on Friday to Rocket Rached, Angel Forest, Steve Hill and MonkeyJunk on Saturday to Valdy, Lynn Miles and Maria Hawkins on Sunday.  As much as I hate driving, when I saw the lineup for Saturday I knew I had to attend at least one day of this festival and am really looking forward to all the acts that day.

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