The Little Festival That Grew — Wasaga Beach Blues Festival
Wasaga Beach was cool but the musicians rocking the Main Stage at the Wasaga Beach Blues Festival were hot.
About 7,800 fans from across Ontario and the U.S. enjoyed a range of blues throughout the free, three-day festival.
The third annual Wasaga Beach Blues Festival, held at the Stonebridge Town Centre Sept. 13 to 15, was launched with the Boogie Woogie Blues Banquet on Sept. 12. Almost 200 people enjoyed the southern style food and live music— featuring the Mississippi AllStars and Chuck Jackson’s Big Bad Blues Band— and dancing.
Photo by Enrique Photo Art
Even though the Friday evening was chilly, D’Mar and Gill entertained the crowds with their high-energy, crowd-engaging show.
The Legendary Downchild Blues Band increased the heat for the 1,700 fans. The party continued with the Boston Blues Jam at Boston Pizza and Cutler Boyd at Wild Wing.
Chuck Jackson of the Legendary Downchild Blues Band. Photo by Enrique Photo Art.
Sunny skies brought out more fans on Saturday for the vendor market and the Stonebridge Boulevard Street Shuffle, which made the area feel more like Beale Street.
Performers created a festive atmosphere for fans of all ages: Aaron Garner Blues Band, the Big Bad Wolf Blues Band, the Blus Bros, Bradley and the Bouncers, D’Mar and Gill, Fraser Daley, Jake Chisholm, Lisa Hutchinson and the Raw Deal Blues Band, Mark ‘Bird’ Stafford, Robin Hawkins, Ronnie Douglas and Roly Platt, Tim Bastmeyer and Jerome Tucker. The Stilt Guys entertained the fans, who also oohed over the classic cars from the Wasaga Beach Cruisers.
Robin Hawkins. Photo by Enrique Photo Art.
The Wasaga Beach Home and Leisure Show, hosted by Beach Booster was held in conjunction with the festival.
On Saturday evening, crowds continued to fill the grounds to see Irene Torres and the Sugar Devils, Dexter Allen, Jack de Keyzer, and A Tribute to the Last Waltz, the Music of the Band. High -intensity, shows, lots of dancing under starry skies gave Wasaga Beach a new vibe.
Boston Pizza and Wild Wing were packed on Saturday night; they hosted performances by the Boston Blues Jam and Tres Hombres and Paul James.
Jack de Keyzer. Photo by Enrique Photo Art
Cooler temperatures couldn’t keep the crowds away on Sunday. Mark ‘Bird’ Stafford’s Junior Jam entertained the fans with heart-wrenching performances from children.
Next, The Paul James Band delivered a beach rocking show.
The Wasaga Beach Blues Festival wrapped up the way it started, with fans dancing to the music of D’Mar and Gill, and Dexter Allen, with special guest Mark Bird Stafford.
An army of volunteers aged 15 to 80 added to the party atmosphere, which included a ‘Liquid Lounge’, sponsored by Sawdust City Brewing Company and Dan Aykroyd Wines.
The Mississippi AllStars (Chris Gill, Derrick Martin, Dexter Allen) with Mark ‘Bird’ Stafford. Photo by Enrique Photo Art
While fans couldn’t take their favourite musician(s) home, CD and T-shirt sales on sale at the merchandise tent, allowed them take some of the festival home. Donations to the Wasaga Beach Public Library were also accepted at the merchandise tent.
When Mark Crowe of the Stonebridge Building Group established the three-hour Stonebridge Blues in 2011, just under 1,000 fans attended. In 2012 Chuck Jackson became the musical director and approximately 2,000 fans attended.
Here’s a sample of some of the music heard at the festival: www.soundcloud.com/wasagabeachblues.
Now 80 musicians and 7,800 fans later, it’s official: the Blues has a new home in Wasaga Beach.