Brantford has the blues this weekend and music fans don’t seem to mind a bit.
After its debut last year, the Brantford Blues Festival returned to the Market Street Promenade between Colborne and Dalhousie streets, bringing a mix of local talent and national blues treasures to the stage.
The best of Canadian blues, the Downchild Blues Band, kicked off the three-day festival with a performance at the Sanderson Centre on Friday night.
“People were dancing in the aisles,” said Brantford Blues organizer Steve Donoghue, who described the show by the country’s premiere blues band as “amazing.”
Members of Downchild joined special guest the Johnny Max Band in a post-show jam session at Therapy Lounge, where the music continued well into the morning.
The festival boasts an all-new lineup this year and demand to play at the event was tremendous, Donoghue said.
“We were overwhelmed with bands trying to get in,” he said, adding that organizers were looking for top quality acts, including some local groups.
“We’ve got some young singers, some established bands and some up-and-comers like Fraser Melvin and Conor Gains,” Donoghue said.
Local musician Denis Rondeau, who played with the Dwayne Laforme Boogie Blues Band, called Saturday “a fabulous day for live music.”
“But for me, this is like a kitchen party,” Rondeau said waving to friends in the crowd. “I love you all.”
Blues fans of all ages staked their claim to good seats in the small promenade, with some arriving several hours before Saturday’s first band, The Delta Shakers, to snag patches of shade and prime viewing spots. The venue was soon crowded with people, some dancing to the music in front of the stage.
Barbecue smoke filled the air as the music filtered through downtown streets, with powerful speakers allowing several people sitting on the shady steps of the S.C. Johnson building to enjoy the music from a few blocks away.
Donoghue said now that the free festival has had a successful sophomore year, the organizing committee will look to move it to a bigger venue next year to accommodate more spectators.