The 12th Annual Southside Shuffle Blues & Jazz Fest will be happening this coming Friday through Sunday, September 10, 11 & 12, 2010. It begins the day before on Thursday, with a Gala blues extravaganza called the Beggars Blues Banquet. This Gala features most of the bands from the Shuffle, sitting in with each other, in a huge blues explosion onstage. This writer has been present at several of these Galas and they’ve always been mind-blowing!
Previous Galas have featured Juno-winning blues guitarist Jack de Keyzer, New Orleans sax great Johnny Pennino, Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry, ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll sax man Jimmy Cavallo, Donnie ‘Mr. Downchild’ Walsh, singer Johnny Max and vocalist harp player Chuck Jackson (Downchild) -- the founder of this great Southside Shuffle fest.
This year’s main stage events promise to be some of the best ever! Legendary rockabilly artist Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins, with longtime Hawk lead/slide guitarist Buzz Thompson will be the main headliner on the Main Stage outdoors on Friday the 10th. This should be some show! Ronnie’s band The Hawks, were originally The Band ... Bob Dylan’s backup band, decades ago. Ronnie sang onstage with them at the iconic Last Waltz concert/film in '76 along with Neil Young and Eric Clapton. Ronnie’s even played command performances for former US President Bill Clinton, who’s a close friend (and fan) of his and the list goes on. Ronnie’s shows are always a delight to see for this writer and the many thousands of others who’ve attended his shows over the decades, since the late ‘50s.
The Hawk will be preceded onstage by Raoul & The Big Time, featuring Raoul Bhaneja on blues harp and lead vocals, with outstanding blues guitarist Darren Gallen. They’re a really upbeat blues band, who this writer has had the pleasure to see many times over the years. Raoul hosts an annual Little Walter Tribute here in Toronto with many blues harp players performing, and has a recent CD out called Blue Midnight featuring this Little Walter Tribute as well. Raoul will be onstage at 7 p.m. on the Friday night, followed by the Downchild Blues Band at 8:30 p.m., with Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks onstage at 10 p.m. This is a show not to be missed!
This Saturday's show will feature the ever-popular Dr. Hook singing hits like "On the Cover of Rolling Stone". Opening for him will be the incredible showman bluesman Watermelon Slim and his band, from Oklahoma; as well as iconic blues guitarist Elvin Bishop, who’s opened for B.B. King and many other legends over the years.
The Sunday Mainstage event will feature the one and only super-bluesman guitarist Johnny Winter, and his awesome blues band, featuring Paul Nelson on 2nd lead/rhythm guitar and Scott Spray on bass. They’ll be performing on the Mainstage outdoors at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon with the sun still shining and blues rockin’ from this totally impressive blues god (for lack of a better word, because there isn’t one).
Johnny put on an unbelievably good outdoor show at the Canadian National Exhibition last summer, with opening acts Canned Heat and Mountain. He even had Mountain’s guitar great Leslie West sitting in with him on some mind-blowing blues guitar virtuosity last summer at the Bandshell at the CNE a stage where this writer decades ago saw jazz immortals Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa performing on separate nights with Guido Basso and his Orchestra, featuring Peter Appleyard on vibes.
Preceding Johnny Winter on the Sunday Mainstage will be the high-energy blues of Monkey Junk featuring guitarist/blues harp player Steve Marriner, followed by blues harp great Mark Hummel from the US West Coast. I’ve seen Hummel a few times, and his band always rocks as does Monkey Junk who are major blues award winners with Junos and Maple Blues Awards under their belts.
On Sunday at 11 a.m. there's a Massive Harp Attack blues harp (harmonica) workshop at the Waterside Inn World Stage, featuring two of Canada's top blues harp players, Jerome Godboo and David Rotundo. Admission to this family event is free. The cost to take part in it is $10 per person or $20 for a family of four (two adults and two kids), and includes a free harmonica, certificate of parcticipation in the workshop, and free admission to the Sunday Main Stage event. http://www.southsideshuffle.com/MassiveHarpAttack.pdf
There’s a Junior Blues Jam on Sunday at noon on the Main Stage, where blues harp player Mark ‘bird’ Stafford gets kids up onstage to play some blues with him, starting at noon on Sunday. This type of family entertainment is rare to find, and always a popular attraction at this Shuffle. Mark also is part of Blues In Schools, where he and other blues artists bring the enjoyment of the blues and blues history to schools across Ontario.
There’s also blues and jazz happening inside the nightclubs and outside the clubs on the streets themselves, in this Shuffle’s great blues and jazz Streetfest which will also be happening the same Friday through Sunday this year. It’s always a blast to see these acts perform. Keep a lookout for blues harp players Jerome Godboo (formerly with Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks) and David Rotundo, blues guitarists Jack de Keyzer and Pat Rush (ex-Jeff Healey/James Cotton/Johnny Winter), blues harp players Paul Reddick and Little Bobby & the Jumpstarts with guitarist Pete Schmidt, Juno-winning piano man Julian Fauth with drummer Bob Vespaziani, Bradley & the Bouncers, Danny Brooks, Fraser/Daley, the Gary Kendall Band, Monkey Junk, Robin Banks, the Tone Dogs, Jay Douglas, Larry Kurtz with special guest guitarist Brian Blain and bassist Douglas Watson, Dave Murphy, Danny Lockwood, Harrison Kennedy, etc. These are major blues players on the Canadian blues scene, and always put on amazing shows.
The All-Star Blues Jam happens Friday and Saturday night from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. at the Port Credit Legion, hosted by bluesman/vocalist Johnny Max. This event is always a real winner, with many of the top talent who perform at the Shuffle, dropping by to play some blues. I've been present at many of these Shuffle Jams at the Legion over the years, and have seen many of these artists. Some of my favorites include Donnie 'Mr. Downchild' Walsh, Johnny Pennino, Jimmy Cavallo, Pat Carey, Mike Fonfara, Jerome Godboo, Dylan Wickens, Dan Dufour and Jack de Keyzer, to name just a few. This is a hot pro-jam, with all the stops pulled out. The creativity and imagination onstage at these jams is right out of this world to see and listen to!
Further info can be had by visiting the Southside Shuffle website for all schedules, venues, stages, blues and jazz artists and special events throughout this fabulous three days and nights of fantastic blues and jazz at the 12th Annual Southside Shuffle Blues & Jazz Festival in Port Credit, Ontario. For those visiting Toronto, or who don’t have a car, there’s a GO Train leaving Toronto for Port Credit every hour. The trip to the Shuffle in Port Credit from Toronto is only about half an hour or less.