Last August I attended the Trois-Rivières en Blues festival for the first time. I missed the first night and I kick myself still. The David Shelley Band played that Thursday on the main stage, and David jammed later that night with Paul DesLauriers at Le Trèfle, at one of the late shows. Apparently a jam for the ages. Sadly, David passed away, stricken by cancer, earlier this month.
I had no expectations when I showed up last year. I had been assured that the lineup was solid and that I would be impressed. I thought to myself, how could a festival in only its' 6th year rival the quality of bigger, more established festivals? I knew I would be well served by the two festival co-spokesmen, Paul DesLauriers and Steve Strongman. You can't miss with those two. I had seen Tommy Castro and the Painkillers a month earlier in Tremblant, so I knew that would be good. But beyond that, I had previously seen Bad Boyz Boogie, Guy Bélanger, Adam Karch, Rick L. Blues, and Dan Livingstone. So there was a solid Quebec base, as usual. But did I really need to go spend three nights in Trois-Rivières?
Well let me tell you...the sun shone for four straight days, the festival site was perfect, and the crowd atmosphere were great. And most importantly, I discovered new (to me) acts that I really enjoyed. I discovered Whisky Legs fronted by Maude Brochu, from Quebec City. Up and comers, as they have proven in the year that has passed since I first saw them. They got a slot on the Blues stage at the Montreal International Jazz Festival this summer. On the Saturday night, fiddler Anne Harris stole the show when the Otis Taylor Band took to the stage. I got tired just watching her. What energy! And on Sunday night, Dana Fuchs and her band also cranked up the energy level as they closed out the festival.
Here's a mix of performers from last year, and some coming up this weekend:
Trois-Rivières en Blues really delivered last year. Needless to say I was very anxious to see what this year's lineup would look like. This year's edition presents some pretty big changes. Trois-Rivières now has a state of the art ampitheatre on the shores of the St-Lawrence River. The main shows each evening will be held there. The festival is growing and changing the venue is a gamble. Will the great vibe I felt last August stay intact? A resized rue Badeaux stage will still throne in the same spot as last year, with afternoon and early evening shows, as well as all of Thursday night's offerings, when the festival kicks off with The Backtrack Blues Band, followed by Jack DeKeyzer. Local restaurants and bars are also in on the act again this year, presenting acts before and after the main attractions.
Click here for the full schedule.
More from this year and last:
The big name without a doubt this year is ZZ Top. It's a coup to be able to book them. They'll be serving up their Texas brand of music on the Friday night, with Blackberry Smoke opening. Saturday night sees Brent Johnson and the Call Up and Roomful of Blues warming up the stage for Edgar Winter. And to close out the ampitheatre lineup on Sunday night is another solid triple-bill: John Nemeth, Tinsley Ellis, and Keb' Mo'.
Here are some other shows to keep an eye (and ear!) out for this weekend: Alvin Youngblood Hart, Anthony Gomes, Jamiah Rogers, and Angelique Francis. And don't forget about our local Quebec talent whom we take for granted too often because we are spoiled and get to see them live on a regular basis: Jim Zeller, Louis Janelle, Justin Saladino, and Angel Forrest.
The festival organizers have rolled the dice with big changes. Come see if it pays off. My guess is a 'yes'.