Organizers of LiUNA! Bluesfest Windsor revealed their full lineup for the 2019 edition of the festival last Wednesday (Jan. 30) during a press conference, with an exciting new format which includes four nights over two weekends of specially themed concerts.
Over the past few years Bluesfest Windsor has been evolving and diversifying to bring more than just Blues acts to the festival. This offers a wide range of music for a wide range of fans. While the festival is no longer purely Blues, drawing criticisms about keeping the festival name the same from some Blues purists, one thing is certain, the format is working and drawing record crowds. Bluesfest Windsor has become the biggest, most attended, and most popular music festival in the region. As the festival continues to evolve, perhaps keeping the name is a great legacy and tribute to where the festival got its roots!
In the past Bluesfest Windsor ran for one weekend for either 3 days, or as in the past few years, four days. This year the festival will run on back to back weekends on the Friday and Saturday for four nights of music. In the future the festival plans to expand to more days than that.
“As you know we’ve got a little bit of a different format this year which is striving towards our goal of a ten day festival, we have secured four nights,” stated Rob Petroni, festival President and Business Manager of LiUNA! 625. Last year’s 90’s Throwback themed night was a huge success completely selling out the Sunday, a day which was typically the least attended day of the festival. So this year the festival is holding four themed nights.
The four special nights of concerts are themed as follows: 90’s Throwback, Hot Rock Night, A Night for Amazing Blues, and a Celebration of Prince, featuring legendary performers and rising stars coming.
Bluestowne, a special area located in Windsor’s Riverfront Festival Plaza featuring a second stage, food vendors, and beverages all under a giant tent, was added to the festival in 2017. Last year it was doubled in size and it will be back for 2019. Acts lined up for the Bluestowne stage will perform between main stage sets.
On Friday, July 5, Bluesfest Windsor 2019 will kick off with the return of their 2018 sold-out show an all new 90’s Throwback featuring Vanilla Ice, Young MC, Rob Base, C and C Music Factory ft. Freedom Williams plus (new this year) Tone Loc and The 2 Live Crew.
In 2018 Bluesfest Windsor mixed in some rock and rap along with blues into their entertainment line up and it was nothing but a big party when Vanilla Ice took the stage on Sunday night, July 15, 2018. The Sunday completely sold out and Windsor’s riverfront was packed. The crowd loved Vanilla Ice and he even brought a bunch of fans right onto the stage with him to party! And what a party it was!
Hot Rock Night
On Saturday, July 6, Bluesfest Windsor 2019 will be themed Hot Rock Night featuring world-class rockers X Ambassadors from Ithaca, NY. Their bombastic sounds and hit songs have garnered multi-music awards across the continent including a gold-certified album for VHS and double-platinum hits like Renegades and Unsteady as they continue to win fans and sell out concerts worldwide.
Leading off Saturday’s Hot Rock Night, singer, songwriter rising Canadian rock star, Billy Raffoul brings his blues rock raspy voice and raw sense of storytelling to the Bluesfest stage. With the launch of his first EP 1975 and packing North American tour performances, Raffoul is receiving critical acclaim from music media and a rapidly growing fan following.
Performing on the Bluestowne Stage are Greatest Hits Live. For a decade, electrifying local band, Greatest Hits Live have mastered the art of reproducing the greatest rock music of our time with incredible tribute shows, including the Best of Styx and Journey, Best of Canadian Rock, Best of 70s Rock, Best of 80s Rock, and The Ultimate Classic Rock Show, are renowned!
A Night for Amazing Blues
On Friday, July 12, Bluesfest Windsor 2019 features legendary Grammy Award winning American blues guitarist Buddy Guy, and back by popular demand is crowd favourite Sugaray Rayford, and for the first time “Raw Dawg” Eric Gales originally hailed as a guitar prodigy, will blow the crowd away. In addition, Petroni said, “some additional people we’ve added since are Scott Holt and Hurricane Ruth.”
Blues purists, aficionados and genre newbies won’t want to miss the legendary blues icon Buddy Guy performing his classic hits and new tunes from his18th solo LP and latest album, The Blues is Alive and Well. At 82 years young and a touring schedule akin to a rising star, with seven Grammys and countless music awards, Bluesfest’s special night with Buddy Guy will simply amaze!
Also heading up blues night and making his first appearance in Canada, renowned guitarist and blues rock singer, Eric Gales is fresh off headlining sold-out concerts in the UK, South America and Europe and is set to release his new studio album The Bookends. With 15 studio albums to his credit, the first released at age 16, Gales is recognized as the guitarists’ favourite guitarist by the likes of Carlos Santana, Joe Bonamassa, Dave Navarro and many others.
Setting the stage for blues night is multi-blues award nominee, soul blues singer Sugaray Rayford, returning to the Bluesfest stage. Rayford’s live shows feature his 8-piece band and deliver a high-energy vibe with a celebratory flair as he whips the crowd into a frenzy like a Gospel Preacher.
Performing on the Bluestowne Stage are incredible Blues performers Scott Holt and Hurricane Ruth.
Scott Holt electrified fans right here in Windsor Essex when he headlined Bluesfest back in 2011 and 2015. Holt is also an inductee of the Canada South Blues Museum Hall of Fame located right here in Windsor. Scott has been a bearer of the Blues torch for his entire career. Born and raised in Tennessee, Texas and Mississippi, Scott began his musical journey relatively late. At 19 years old Holt jumped on the fast-track joining his friend and mentor Buddy Guy, playing guitar for 10 years during the most successful period of the Legend’s career. Holt has established himself as a six-string powerhouse and a penetrating and soulful storyteller. Through the countless miles criss-crossing North America, Scott developed a reputation as one of the most exciting live acts in the world.
Hurricane Ruth LaMaster is a vocal powerhouse with a style all her own. Hurricane Ruth earned her name because no one believed that such a large sound could come out of such a small woman! Blues Blast Magazine says, “She exudes a powerful presence in her approach to singing, blending the blues with rock and soul and high energy country. Sonically, she is a banshee, but with great charm and appeal attached to that powerful sound.”
Celebration of Prince
On Saturday, July 13, Bluesfest Windsor 2019 will feature a Celebration of Prince. This very special night is a tribute to the award winning, flamboyant 1980’s music icon, singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, actor, filmmaker, and the one and only “Purple One”, PRINCE!
The exciting lineup features Morris Day & The Time, Sheila E., award winning Prince tribute show Purple Reign, and Detroit’s legendary blues and R&B artists Kathleen Murray and The Groove Council. South River Slim will thrill the crowd on the Bluestowne Stage.
Morris Day, Master of Cool, with his smooth vocals and dynamic dancing was a high-school classmate of Prince and also a founding member and performer in his band, The Time. Going solo in 1984, today, Morris Day & The Time perform hit songs like Jungle Love to standing-room-only crowds across the country.
Sheila E. is a world-class percussionist, singer/songwriter, author and humanitarian. Her trailblazing career, still without bounds, began in the mid-’80’s when she became the biggest and brightest of Prince’s protégés. Her fierce, dynamic energy onstage has made her a major concert draw since the ‘90’s, captivating audiences around the world with a variety of styles from Latin, and jazz, to R&B and pop. With groundbreaking hits like The Glamorous Life and A Love Bizarre, plus career credits that include the likes of Ringo Starr and Diana Ross, Sheila E. will create a new dimension of entertainment for Bluesfest fans.
Purple Reign is an award-winning live show produced by and starring Jason Tenner. Playing the Las Vegas strip for almost two decades,Tenner’s funk, neo-soul, pop and rock sound, plus his Prince-like persona has been a hit sensation with audiences from around the world and has led to a guest musical appearance on the David Letterman show.
Kathleen Murray and The Groove Council, Detroit’s legendary blues and R&B artists and long-standing Bluesfest Windsor performers, will open the Celebration of Prince concert.
Energetic local Blues Rocker South River Slim will return to the Bluestowne Stage for the third year in a row. Eyes On Windsor interviewed Slim last month and while he would blow the crowd away on the main stage he told us he prefers the Bluestowne stage because he can be more intimate and interactive with his audience.
Reimagined and revitalized five years ago when Rob Petroni took the helm and began securing major corporate sponsors to attract world class artists to perform on the Windsor waterfront, today, LiUNA! Bluesfest Windsor is a million dollar plus production, expanding to new heights each year.
“My focus has always been to feature exceptional quality musicians, emphasize genre diversity and to grow and broaden our fan base by creating a highly entertaining and memorable experience,” says Petroni.
After Bluesfest’s second break-even year, Petroni presented his national organization, LiUNA! with a signature sponsorship proposal that would assign the most progressive union in the country the naming rights to the festival and all related marketing. Since they’ve been on board, the LiUNA! brand and the organization’s regional stature have gained considerable attention for their role as a significant community partner for volunteerism, and the funding of special needs for numerous charitable organizations, most notably, Transition To Betterness.
“Ticket sales for the 2019 concert which began last month, have exceeded last year’s early bird sales by 30%,” added Executive Director, Carol Petroni. “And that’s only through online sales! Watch for our retail outlets to be announced by mid-February,” she emphasized.
Early bird Bluesfest Windsor ticket sales, originally set to end on Jan. 30 have been extended through Feb. 28 and can be purchased online. For more information or to purchase tickets please visit http://www.bluesfestwindsor.com