July 3rd through July 12th – http://tremblantblues.com/en/
2015 was the twenty-second edition of the Festival International du Blues de Tremblant who has been assembling annual Blues festivals that compare with the best in world. This year’s headliners featured national performers such as: The Danielle Nicole Band, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Victor Wainwright & Damon Fowler, J.P. Soars, Rick Vito featuring Reese Wynans, Southern Hospitality, The Heritage Blues Orchestra, Sugaray Rayford, and Bill “Sauce Boss” Wharton.
As expected, there was a good smattering of very talented Canadian bands: The Blackburn Band, Carl Tremblay, Steve Strongman, Steve Marriner & Paul Reddick, Johnny Max, Mike Goudreau, Mike Deway, Roxanne Potvin, Dawn Tyler Watson & Paul Deslauriers, Dan Livingstone, Carlos Del Junco & Jimmy Bowskill, and others. From traditional blues to its R & B, funk, country, folk and rock influences, this Fest features shows for all musical tastes, with a very deep lineup of more than one-hundred live performances – and it is all free!
My two day hang favorites included: Angel Forrest, a magnificent Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute set, The Bros. Landreth, and Ronnie Baker Brooks’ band.
Forrest hails from Montreal and has been performing for over twenty-five years, she also has eight recordings, and was Canada’s female vocalist of the year, awarded by the prestigious Maple Blues Awards. I was struck by her resourcefulness, especially when she belts out the Blues, but she can turn on a dime switching gears seguing to a folk tune. I also recognized and appreciated Angel’s songwriting skills that meld well with her soulful vocals. Find out more at: www.angelforrest.ca
I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute performance, but it was good, very good, especially with the outstanding vocalist Dawn Tyler Watson and her longtime (dynamic) guitarist Paul Deslauriers leading the way and calling on many of Canada’s best artists to pay homage to CCR. One by one, each performer (Steve
Marriner, Paul Reddick, Angel and Denis
Coulombe, Carlos Del Junco, Jimmy Bowskill, Trevor Finlay, Dan Livingstone) excelled; magically paying tribute to one of America’s greatest and much revered bands. Of particular note was the outstanding guitar playing by Deslauriers who really shined. But I thought it was Dawn Tyler Watson who stole the show when she stepped out and belted out a Gospel song (not a CCR tune) that made my hair stand on end, so much so I feel
she’s the most dynamic (male or female) vocalist in Canada. She’s that powerful, potent, and incredibly adaptive to all styles of music. www.DawnandPaul.com. In summary, the CCR tribute was a huge success, the crowd loved it, plus I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tremblant Blues producers might revive this Revival (at least) one more time next year.
Another fine surprise came from The Bros. Landreth who just won a 2015 Juno Award for their very first album “Let It Lie” in the category of Roots and Traditional album of the year. At the core of the quartet are two Landreth Brothers, David and Joey from Winnipeg, Manitoba, who seemingly derive their rootsy sounds from lofty bands and embrace the sounds and styles that are reminiscent of Little Feat, Gov’t Mule, John Hiatt, and other roots based Americana rock bands. Yet they have their own distinctive groove. Their Tremblant set was a mix of occasional ballads, southern rock jamming and Americana, played with passion, and expertise. The two guitarists, Joey Landreth and Ariel Posen have complimentary styles; Joey playing bottle neck much of the time. Brother David plays a solid bass, and Ryan Voth is a propulsive drummer. Catch them live when you can. More at: www.TheBrosLandreth.com
My favorite performance came from Ronnie Baker Brooks’s band. I had seen them last summer at Trois Rivieres Blues Fest and was looking forward to their Tremblant performance. Ronnie has retooled his act from hard rocking blues to one more soul and funk that’s fuzzed with Chicago Blues. Ronnie’s a cut from the same cloth as his dad Lonnie, who is a legendary (but now retired) Windy City bluesman. Brooks’ music set continues to evolve into other genres, and is further enhanced with a three-piece horn section.
I had a chance to catchup with Ronnie before his morning sound-check, and Ronnie shared a lot of interesting updates about his career. Brooks proudly spoke about his upcoming recording that is produced by the gifted and well-known drummer Steve Jordan. Ronnie told me that there will be an abundance of featured guests including: Steve Cropper, Keb’ Mo’, Felix Cavaliere, Willie Weeks, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and of course his dad Lonnie. The new album will be titled “Wham Bam Thank You Sam,” which also was one of the songs he premiered at Tremblant, along with a Cavaliere/Rascals chestnut that I suspect will also be on his new recording. Brooks also mentioned that he has another new recording in the works with Keb’ Mo’ and that half of the songs are already completed. Stay tuned for more from Ronnie Baker Brooks at:
The Festival International du Blues de Tremblant is tucked away in the Laurentian Mountains approximately ninety-minutes northwest of Montreal in the gorgeous chalet town of Mont-Tremblant which looks much like Quebec City with cobblestone streets, old world architecture, and gondola rides for all! Yet for almost two intense weeks; the Blues rule in the cool and fresh mountain air. Southern New York residents who could use a break from the heat will pleasantly be catered to in Tremblant. As there’s plenty of fine dining, first class hotels, and yes, free blues music. Tremblant (depending on where you live) is about a seven to eight hour drive away. Join Mont-Tremblant, enjoy the cooler surroundings in the Laurentian Mountains with plenty of hot (and free) blues!
This just in: This Festival grew by a twenty-four percent increase in attendance. From July 3rd through the 12th there were over one-hundred free shows showcasing artists from the around the world that performed on five outdoor stages, the Casino, and at a dozen café restaurants and bars. Impressive! The event programming team is already focused on the Festival’s 23rd edition, scheduled to take place July 8 – 17, 2016. For updates check: http://tremblantblues.com/en/
For 16 years Bob Putignano has been pivotal at WFDU with his Sounds of Blue radio show (Wed. & Fri. 9am-1pm) www.SoundsofBlue.com – 2015’s most pledged to ($21,000+) radio program at http://wfdu.fm Previously a contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for the Yonkers Tribune – YonkersTribune.com, www.MakingAScene.org & www.wfdu.fm/WhatsHappening/Bob’sMusicReviews/bobsmusicreviews/. Bob was the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) for his achievements in radio broadcasting. Putignano can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org