Blues fans are in store for another red-hot, memorable year at the 27th edition of Roots & Blues.
Organizers are working hard to replicate the great blues, acoustic and electric, that fired up the CBC Blues Stage, the Barn, and the Main Stage, which came to a volcanic crescendo with Colin James’ dynamite finale.
“Looking at what went on at the annual Maple Blues Awards on Monday, Feb. 4, in the heart of Toronto, it looks as though Roots & Blues is on the right track to provide blues fans with more electrifying moments,” says Peter North, the festival’s artistic director.
Ottawa native and Austin, Texas resident Sue Foley took home Guitar Player of the Year award due, in part, to her great instrumental performance that dominates her latest album The Ice Queen.
Moments after receiving the award, Foley returned to the stage and brought down the house with a stinging performance of the title track of that same album. Roots & Blues fans will have the opportunity to hear this terrific artist who will be playing main stage and side stage workshops at the 2019 festival.
“And that’s only the tip of the iceberg for The Ice Queen as Foley was recently nominated for two Blues Music Awards stateside – Song of the Year (Ice Queen) and the Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female Artist),” adds North.
Also nominated for Guitar Player of the Year at the Maple Blues Awards, as well as Recording of the Year, was Toronto’s Jack de Keyzer, one of the great veterans of the Canadian blues scene.
That recording is Checkmate, the guitar playing singer and producer’s tip of the hat to the groundbreaking electric blues that came out of Chicago courtesy of artists like Willie Dixon and Otis Rush.
De Keyzer will be loading his gear onto the Roots & Blues stages and burning it up with longtime friends like Al Lerman, who was blowing harp and sax in the Maple Blues Awards House Band, and who will also be playing acoustic and electric blues for Roots & Blues patrons this August 15 to 18.
The founder and leader of the Juno award-winning band Fathead, Lerman is also a disciple of acoustic blues. His presence at Roots & Blues will add a lot of substance to many workshops, whether they be built on country-blues or lean towards R&B.
Adding to the depth with Canadian blues at Roots & Blues 2019 is one of the hottest young artists in the nation, Ms. Jenie Thai. This piano playing, singing, hellbent entertainer wowed the Maple Blues Awards crowd with a rollicking attack on the late Jane Vasey’s Trying to Keep Her 88’s Straight, which was a hit for the Downchild Blues Band back in the late ’70s. A classy move indeed by the young artist, originally from Edmonton who is now making her home in Toronto.