Blues are back in town.
The biggest compilation of blues music on the Island invades Victoria’s Inner Harbour when Blues Bash takes over Ship Point Sept. 1 to 3 for a three-day single-venue outdoor music festival.
“(Blues Bash) adds a very, very good vibe for downtown Victoria on Labour Day weekend,” said BB communications officer Kendra Martin. “You can tell people are really alive during the weekend, it brings an energy when you go downtown.”
The 18th annual event kicks off with free performances at Ship Point from noon to 5 p.m. before the venue is shut down then reopened for the feature ticketed performances at 7 p.m.
The Victoria Jazz Society’s second of two outdoor festivals drew 18,000 viewers in 2011 that again boasts a lineup bursting with blues influences running the gamut from contemporary and Memphis to delta and gospel stylings.
Ticketed performances include three-time Juno-nominated Victorian and long-time blues stylist David Gogo playing Sept. 1 at 7 p.m., and Joe Louis Walker kicking off his North American tour in Victoria Sept. 7. Free performances are anchored by an experienced group of local performers.
“A lot of the acts we pride ourselves on are our locals,” Martin continued. “We have a rich condensed level of talent in Victoria and Vancouver Island so Blues Bash is a great way to lend a stage for these awesome performers.”
The festival boasts a number of well-respected local acts including Lazy Mike and the Rockin’ Recliners, The Roper Show and Paul Black who makes his fifth appearance at one of his favourite events of the year.
“The Blues Bash is the biggest (blues) show in Victoria,” Black said. “You can’t beat them. Being local you get a lot of the same people and familiar faces, it is nice to play to a larger wider audience.”
The Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Guy and Jimi Hendrix influenced guitar player and vocalist happened upon blues music when he unknowingly took in a performance by a legendary musician that changed his life.
“The first time I listened to Stevie Ray Vaughn, man that gave me goosebumps. It was so intense, the feeling and intensity of it,” Black said. “The blues just give you a beat everyone can hold on and grab onto.”
He came out of that concert with a new appreciation for musical stylings he wasn’t hearing on the radio and hopes that others who take in the festival feel the same way for him and his original music.
“There are things that just grab you and send a chill up your spine, it is hard to describe. … It is not all wrapped around the mathematical, blues is all about feel,” the Victorian said. “I am not trying to get into MuchMusic, it is all about getting people to dig what you do and appreciate live music. I am trying to give other people goosebumps.”