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TD Kitchener Blues Festival


TD Kitchener Blues Festival


The sweltering Delta sound hit Kitchener’s core this past weekend when the blues men and women came to town.

Now in it’s 13th year, 60 plus shows big and more hyped than ever (including a custom-made app to track performances, locations and share pictures) what is known to many as Blues Brews is actually a diverse four-day festival for the whole family. With a whole alley of vendors and food choices (try the catfish at Mississippi Queen!) to peruse while strolling from stage to stage it’s truly an affair for all the senses, not just the ears. Some people may decide to move closer to this location so they are in prime position for when Fesitval’s like this take place in their area. By checking this website you can have a look at just one of the many real estate agents who offer their services in the Kitchener area to find your dream home. Just think, you won’t have to travel far for events like these as they will be practically on your doorstep.

Spread over seven stages and 12 bar venues, the acts didn’t just include hard-toiling and heavy drinking “classic” blues, but a variety of genres from rockabilly to funk, indie-pop to tried-and-true Chicago blues.


The Douglas Watson Band, Washed in Muddy Waters

This four-piece Muddy Waters tribute held Saturday afternoon at McCabes Irish Pub was true to it’s name, and quite arguably the true sound of blues as most non-aficionados know it. Watson, who’s father was a member of Water’s band, certainly lived up to the hype, so much in fact that when walking in from the street you could have thought the great Mr. Morganfield himself was still alive. The band itself was perfectly solid — like a brick shithouse — not overwhelming, just doing what they do best and supporting, nay, creating the blues. It was Chicago blues; bassey and full of life.



Paul James

This pompadour-sporting, R&B clownster with a laid-back style that encapsulates that 1950’s excitement: when rock was young and fresh. Reminding me simultaneously of Buddy Holly and Bob Dylan James was engaging and friendly whilst playing solo (he also fronts a pretty rocking band who I’ve seen before). A TD Blues Fest favourite James drew a good crowd for early afternoon.

The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer

This Vancouver duo bring a dirty country, chain-gang mash up sound with a blues base. With one on harmonica (the harpoon) and the other on guitar (the axe) they both use pedals to fill in as the backbone of their two-man-band. A kick, a snare and some tambourines played with feet create an engaging and down-home feel. They pride themselves in using only what they can physically do with their bodies in their act, pushing their limitations constantly. Their music, which drew a hell-on-wheels, railway blues image in my head, was fused with gospel and rock to create a gritty yet poppy sound, reminiscent of the Black Keys: the Black Keys around a campfire. These two were also funny, enticing the audience with anecdotes: “Do not have the name ‘murderer’ in your band name when crossing in from the states. Cause they dog give a rats ass if you’re a rock band!”


Booker T. Jones

Insatiably funky with their massive organ sound and retro bass lines this act got you moving. Soul man Jones put off a show that was a little bit funk, a little bit Motown and a whole lotta fun! Playing his Hammond like a man on fire, grinning his impossibly white-toothed smile and pounding out some good old electric blues. A joy to watch perform Jones gets this lost look that every great musician is familiar with: the audience is gone, the other members of the band are gone — it’s just the notes and him. On that note he also does this great little piano move I like to call the seizure shuffle — not quite a Stevie Wonder sway, but a lean that means business.

David Wilcox

Wilcox was easily the biggest draw for the Saturday crowd — the seating filled up nearly 45 minutes before he took the stage and they were up dancing at the opening notes. Playing his trade-mark riverboat fantasy feel-good rock/blues Wilcox played an loud show full of innuendo and brilliant guitar work. One of the best things I think I could say about this icon is that with eyes closed he sounds like an old southern man, not a white boy from Canada 😉

Wilcox4 Wilcox5

Full reviews of Big Sugar and Great Lake Swimmers next!

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Article: Allanah Pinhorn

Photos: Whitney South