(Band member Nicholas Tabarias of Nicky T and the Snake Charmers performing during the Canada South Blues Society’s 15th Annual Riverside Blues Festival and Foodraiser at The Riverside Sportsmen Club in Windsor, Ontario, on Saturday, September 14, 2019. Photo above by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)
If there is a commonality among musicians at this year’s 15th Annual Canada South Blues Society’s Riverside Blues Festival and Foodraiser it might well be the influence of none other than much-loved blues giant BB King known affectionately as the “King of the Blues.”
Windsor’s phenomenal blues guitarist and singer Nicholas Tabarias is so good at what he does it is hard to believe it is not BB himself behind the guitar. Tabarias who played Saturday at the Festival, tells Eyes on Windsor, King is one of his greatest influences, and it certainly shows.
Although still under 30, Tabarias is a former member of the Alligators, one of Detroit’s premier blues bands which wrapped up performing last year after more than three decades. Out of its ashes came a new band, Nicky T and The Snake Charmers. Tabarias is, of course, Nicky T. There are three other former Alligators in the band, lead vocalist David Krammer, bassist Frankie Lee and the incredible drum master Pete Berg. Additional music is provided by keyboardist Andy Szymanski.
According to Canada South Blues Society President, Michael McCann, exceptional blues player Tabarias is a protege of internationally renowned blues guitarist Ronnie Earl and has recorded on Earl’s last five albums. The combination of the incredible talent of Tabarias combined with the seasoned Detroit blues veterans was quite evident the moment the band burst into an instrumental and continued once Krammer joined in at the microphone.
For Michael Hereford, the Michael Chester character of British Beat 66, and the event’s headline act, a B.B. King connection when he was 19 changed his approach to performing. Seeing King, and all his energy, at a concert at Windsor’s Arena was nothing if not seminal. He says it drew him out of his shell. Up to then he was somewhat of a wallflower musician. It was his first concert and right there he realized the key to being an entertainer is to entertain, something he does with great panache particularly on songs requiring his considerable strength on the keyboard.
No doubt, for BB66, Nicky T was a hard act to follow but Hereford and his bandmates vocalist Johnny Bo, guitarist Ricky Domino, Drummer Matthew D and bassist Larry C, had a plan. They would offer something a little different, which in BB66’s case was rock and roll from the 60s. It was actually not out of place, considering most of the music played in the 60s can trace its roots to blues and in particular the work of the Rolling Stones, Animals and the Yardbirds to name a few of the bands covered during the BB66 set which had the audience dancing or simply tapping their feet to the beat.
Detroit’s Jeff Hoagland Blues Band was the opening act. The group entertained with a solid repertoire which also covered a few songs from Hoagland’s own hero, famed Chicago blues player Jimmie Rogers. The band also used the evening to introduce three new songs, Blown Away By You, Suicide Blues and Black Snake Blues. All three are scheduled to be included in the Group’s next CD and are certainly worth a good listen.
Hoagland is the singer and is backed up by drummer Donnie Burton, bassist Tracy Garneau and, from Windsor, Brian “Windsor Slim” Smith on harmonica and vocals. Smith, who is actually not all that slim, tells Eyes On Windsor, the nickname came from Blues Society President Michael McCann and just seemed to stick.
McCann himself was more than ecstatic as the evening turned into a night of generosity by Windsor’s blues fans. The goal of the event is twofold, first to keep live blues playing in the city, a task the Society does by planning various events. The other aspect is to collect funds and food for the Unemployment Help Centre Food Bank “Operation Feed The Hungry” and Coats For Kids programs.
Although he didn’t yet have numbers for the evening, he did note that over the last few years the event has generated over $12,000 for its charitable purposes.
With the help of a small army of volunteers, the night of dining, dancing or just listening to the blues went off without a hitch. Over in one corner two musicians, the two Louies as they are known, were kept busy and happy serving up hundreds of hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries. Louie Marcelloni and Louie Fallone are two parts of a former and once popular local three-member wedding band. Now, Fallone tells Eyes On Windsor, he is simply a volunteer.
Sunday the Festival wrapped up with the Road to Memphis Challenge Finals. Annually a blues band is selected to represent the local community in an International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. The qualifying round was Friday. The final play-off, so to speak, featured The Blues Side, Harmonica Ray & The Revelators, and emerging victorious this year was the ABX Blues Project (Neil Fowler, Murray Nosanchuk, Owen Jones and Dave Morris).
Up next the Canada South Blues Society presents Nick Moss who has been recognized as one of the greatest guitarists of his generation. The Nick Moss Band was nominated for ‘Blues album of the Year’ and won ‘Blues Band of the Year’ at the 2019 Blues Foundation Blues Music Awards in Memphis. The show takes place at Rockstar Music Hall on October 11. An additional show will take place in Chatham on October 12.
For more information about the Canada South Blues Society and upcoming shows please visit http://www.bluessociety.ca
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.