Festival artistic director not singing blues about this event 0
Canadian blues icon Chuck Jackson.
WASAGA BEACH — He's played at festivals around the world, and now he's helping to build the culture of the blues in Wasaga Beach.
Canadian blues icon Chuck Jackson joined his Downchild Blues Band brethren to headline last year's Wasaga Beach Blues Festival, and was so impressed that he came back this year as artistic director and consultant.
"We played last year and I developed a really nice relationship with (Stonebridge developer Mark Crowe)," said Jackson.
It's not the first time Jackson has played a behind-the-scenes role at a blues event; he's also the artist director for the wildly successful Southside Shuffle Blues and Jazz Festival that takes over the streets of downtown Port Credit in September. It started out 14 years ago with a handful of bands and about a thousand attendees.
"Today, we get about 150 bands and bring in about 75,000 people," said Jackson.
Tonight, Jackson will be on stage to kick off the second annual blues event at Stonebridge Town Centre in the east end of Wasaga Beach, performing with fellow Downchild member Michael Fonfara at Boston Pizza.
He'll also be performing with the rest of Downchild on Saturday night, and the Maple Blues Revue — featuring some of Canada's top blues artists — on Sunday.
Along with Downchild, the weekend line-up includes the Johnny Max Band, Fathead, Loco Zydeco and Cheryl Lescom, and Dinny's Dixieland AllStars.
Jackson says the Stonebridge site is a fantastic venue.
"The main thing about the festival is its location, and that it has the community getting behind it," he said, noting some of the projects Crowe is planning on will only build on the attraction of the site, and the success of the festival.
Jackson said he's learned a lot, both from running the Port Credit event, and touring in festivals across North America and Europe.
"I'm always taking notes," he said. "We (in Port Credit) have kind of built a model that will work for other festivals, and a lot of events are trying to do similar things.
"We're slowly trying to put together the same model (as Port Credit)… we're doing it in baby steps."
Jackson said the area represents the perfect demographic, and festivals such as the one in the Beach opens up the genre to new audiences — as well as provides exposure to some up-and-coming talent.
"The festivals have really given us a lifeline and an opportunity to play, and an opportunity for (young artists) to showcase their material," he said. "It's a stepping stone for a lot of these bands to be seen… it's an important part of the music community."
It also provides audiences with a broad perspective on the blues, from big band to Jump.
"I hope people are willing to come out," said Jackson. "If they come for a listen, they'll walk away a fan."
All concerts are free; donations are accepted, with all donations going support the new Wasaga Beach Public Library. The main stage will be at Stonebridge, along with vendors, a beer garden, and food, with other activities around town.
For more information about the event, go to www.wasagabeachblues.com.