2011 Saskatoon Blues Festival
Main Stage Artists
Back Alley Blues Band
A new act on the Saskatoon blues scene is always welcome and these boys are just being unwrapped. Terry Hoknes has seen a lot of stages playing the bass with local favourites and on the keys doing crowd pleasing tunes. His vocals will lead the way with Peter Abonyi taking up guitar duties that have previously focused on an acoustic and folk sound. Nakul Aloni, seen more as a hand percussionist, has taken up the sticks and drums for the Alley. The opening act for the 2011 Festival is new to you and will be ready to kick off the show.
The combination of exceptional musicianship and Big Hank's powerful blues voice provide tunes that will have you up and dancing from the get go. Big Hank Lionhart and the other members of Edmonton's A Fist Full of Blues, Duane Smith - bass, Ken Kirkwood - guitar, Barrie Nighswander - guitar, Bill Hobson - drums and Dennis Meneely – keyboards, have a relationship that goes way back. They slip between the Blues and R&B as easy as you please and bring along an edge and special sound that make A Fist Full of Blues much more than your average blues band.
Once you've seen this act you'll know why they have awards from Memphis to Maples and are one of Canada's hottest blues touring bands. A unique trio from Ottawa, they lay down a contemporary blend of swamp R&B, soul boogie and bedroom funk driven by Steve Marriner's baritone guitar, harp and keys, Tony D's funky guitar riffs and Matt Sobb's big bottom drum sound. With years of experience between them, but together for less than three years, this band is ruling from sea to sea. In town prior to the Festival doing Blues in the Schools, MonkeyJunk will headline opening night.
Brother Yusef combines traditional finger picking with slide guitar and calls his Fattback Blues, “a rich mixture of Delta, Chicago, Texas and West Coast blues all rolled up in one acoustic guitar with a strong helping of Louisiana hot sauce in a Memphis stew.” For the past twenty years from his home in Southern California blues has been the voice with wide ranging sound and emotion that Brother Yusef has shared from the LA clubs to Downtown Disney. He is a master solo guitarist, as well as a uniquely passionate vocalist who delivers the blues with a funky, deep-roots style.
Pura Fé’s music celebrates her heritage and legacy combining Aboriginal music with traditional blues. She was named by her Puerto Rican father (her name translates as “pure faith”) and raised by her mother from the Tuscarora First Nation from North Carolina. In addition to the blues, Pura Fé is internationally known for her work with the a cappella trio Ulali, and is a part of the Deer Clan Singers who perform Iroquois-based social dance and song. Before taking off for Europe for a string of dates, Pura Fé brings her lap slide guitar and compelling voice for her Saskatoon debut.
From Willie Dixon to ZZ Top, this Regina trio has the experience and the chops to cover them all. Gord Arnold is up front playing acoustic, electric and slide guitars, blowing harp and leading the vocals. His wide range of influences and vast stage experience, from Celtic to rock all comes home when Gord is laying down blues. With veteran rhythm section players, Robert Homenuk on drums and Darrell Diebel on bass, this is a trio that knows what it takes technically and from the heart, and they can deliver.
"She pulls out all the stops. She can play it all: seductive, soulful material, down-home Delta blues, or humorous tales of life on the road." These words from Blues Review Magazine have been earned through musical influence and dedication starting at home in LA. In the 60’s Debbie entered the boys' only electric guitar playground and by the 90’s was in Albert Collins' band learning to dig deep to deliver her kind of blues. Since then many of her own recordings and collaborations with the likes of Mayall, Montoya and Musslewhite indicate why Debbie Davies is amoung the top performers of today.
One of the best, most experienced and most distinctive bands in blues today. Piazza sets a standard for harmonica virtuosity establishing him as one of the most influential living blues harp players. In the early 70’s he joined with Honey (now his wife) on piano to form the Mighty Flyers. They have won or been nominated for virtually every award that could be bestowed upon a blues band; playing a combination of low-down Chicago grit, suave West Coast swing, jazz and early R&B and rock & roll. Henry Carvajal on guitar and David Kida drums.
Complex, complicated and undoubtedly talented, David Jacobs-Strain’s is a show to look forward to. David is a young musician who has been performing professionally since he was 11. He plays an intriguing mix of originals and blues classics and while he says he’s “drawn to the dark stuff” he passionately believes in the power of music as a vehicle for expression. In his mid-twenties, he
already channels age-old wisdom and heartache with such dexterity, energy, and passion that you feel good, even about feeling bad. Being chosen by Boz Scaggs to open his 2008 tour is a testament to David's abilities.
The combination of these two talented Edmonton based musicians results in a great show. Harpdog Brown is a gifted singer and an imaginative harmonica player that takes traditional blues into the 21st century. He is in total command onstage and enjoys every minute. Graham Guest, pianist extraordinaire, has been a favorite of blues fans as a player known as a 'go to' man on keys in Canada. Graham provides a solid rhythmic foundation with sparkling yet seemingly effortless fills. The two seem to be of one musical mind and will be playing from their recently released CD Above & Beyond.
Saskatoon favorite B.C Read has been satisfying audiences for over 25 years with his unique style of roots and blues song writing and fresh sound. He’s been busy working on a new CD and we’re hoping there may be a preview of some previously unheard tunes at this year’s Festival. B.C. performs in a variety of formats, from solo to the Big Band, but on stage this year will be long standing sidemen, bassist George Tennent with Kevin Barrett on keys, Sheldon Corbett playing horns and drummer Joe Dixon. This is band that ranks among the best in the west.
Big Dave McLean has been a fixture on the Canadian blues circuit for well over 30 years and long welcomed in Saskatoon. He’s won numerous awards including one for his lifetime contribution to the blues. He plays originals, Delta and Chicago blues with equal passion and obvious joy. Dave has toured from coast to coast and is continually passing on his love of the blues to others, be they green or seasoned vets. For his Festival show Dave is bringing his hometown Muddy Tones from Winnipeg to treat the audience to a band not previously seen in Toontown.
You might remember them…Savoy Brown with Kim Simmonds have been “Keeping the Blues Rockin’ since 1965” and they just keep getting better. One fan describes the band (Kim Simmonds guitar, Joe Whiting vocals and saxophone, Pat DeSalvo bass and Garnet Grimm drums) as tighter than a clenched fist. Legendary…a blues/rock institution… true innovators. These are just a few of the ways Savoy Brown has been described over the past forty years by music critics and fans. Their stage show is true to the British blues sound that they helped launch. You’d best come and see for yourself.