Fifty Shades of the Blues

MADISON TAYLOR

Studebaker John opened this year’s Blues Festival on Monday night.

Studebaker John opened this year’s Blues Festival on Monday night.

The annual Saskatoon Blues Festival invites you to take a step back in time to the golden age of urban blues. From Feb. 24 – March 2 seasoned blues veterans and rookies alike can enjoy the smooth, finger-snapping tunes of artists from across the globe, courtesy of the Saskatoon Blues Society.

The kickoff for this fabulous seven day event took place on Feb. 24 at Bud’s on Broadway. Studebaker John and his effortlessly cool crew shook the floorboards of the smoky bar room with an electric sequence of slide-guitar riffs, vibrant harmonica accents and raw vocals.

Studebaker’s performance captured the soul of his blues-fed Chicago roots, delivering the same energetic sound he has been known for since his debut as Studebaker John and the Hawks in the 70s.

Despite the fact that the show took place on a Monday evening, the band’s catchy rhythm demanded countless rounds of swing dancing — and even more rounds of beer. The crowd-pleasing success of Studebaker’s show bodes well for the remainder of the festival, which will continue to paint the town blue into early March.

The annual festival is coming to a venue near you, hosting a new event almost daily this week at locations throughout our fine city.

1O’Brians Event Centre and the Park Town Hotel will be showcasing the performances of the 14 remaining main acts, including the likes of the Blue Mules, Omar & the Howlers, Kat Danser, the Neil Roston Trio, Michael Jerome Browne, the Silver Screen Scoundrels and Carolyn Wonderland.

These artists represent everything along the spectrum of blues from the soulful to the guttural, dishing out beats that are sure to have their audiences swaying and waving their lighters on the dance floor.

Founded in 2001, the Saskatoon Blues Society was created with a dream in mind — to spread the love of the blues across Saskatchewan and Canada as a whole.

Over the past decade the success of their annual festival has grown immensely, quickly becoming an important fixture in the artistic community. Due to the efforts of local businesses, both aspiring musicians and avid fans are able to move and groove with the brightest stars of the Canadian blues scene.

The Blues Society also offers workshops and camps to Saskatoon’s elementary and high school students in an effort to teach them more about the music they are so passionate about.

Performances and lessons are both available in these seminars, giving students the opportunity to learn about the history of the genre or even try their hand at certain instruments, like bass guitar.

Delivering the rockin’ blues to the people of Saskatoon for over ten years now, the Saskatoon Blues Festival is a colourful and valuable addition to the cultural and artistic scene of the city. Even if you don’t consider yourself a die-hard blues fan, it is worth the price of admission to experience the genre that inspired such contemporary bands as the Black Keys and the White Stripes.

If kicking back in the company of good people and even better music seems like a chill way to spend an evening, be sure to check out one of the upcoming shows in the festival’s electrifying lineup.

Tickets for the Saskatoon Blues Festival can be purchased at Long & McQuade, McNally Robinson, St. John’s Music, Cherry Insurance or online at saskatoonbluessociety.ca. Main stage tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door.


Photo: Madison Taylor