The 2018 Trois-Rivières en Blues Festival continues its ascent as one to the most potent Blues Festivals in North America. This year was their tenth edition of the alternatively known Three Rivers Blues Fest, easier to pronounce for non-French speaking folks like me. This marks the fourth year that the four-year-old Cogeco Trois-Rivières Amphitheater facility was utilized for this Blues Festival. The amphitheater is striking and is held up by eight columns, a thin and elegant roof takes advantage of the natural beauty of the site I that frames the grand St. Lawrence River. There is seating for thirty-five hundred orchestra seats, there’s also room for fifty-five hundred outdoor concert goers at the lawn area. It is truly an exceptional structure and a site to behold.
Geographically: Trois-Rivières is located in the province of Québec, typically less than ninety minutes northeast of Montreal, and approximately seventy-five minutes from world-renowned Québec City. There are ticket charges at the amphitheater, but there are downtown location(s) festival performances that do not charge an admission fee.
This years Blues event expanded from a three-day event to a four-day extravaganza, three nights at the amphitheater as well as four days and nights at the downtown locations.
Highlights: Randy Bachman’s group was spot-on as Bachman and his band took us for flashback stroll of Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive well-known classic hits. What was special about this performance was that it was not your typical greatest hits performance as the songs performed were sharpened with a new edge that flat-out (positively) took me by surprise. For example their (1970) number one mega hit “American Woman” morphed into Led Zep’s “Whole Lotta Love,” before returning back to “American Woman,” the crowd enthusiastically erupted, and I was pleasantly stunned by their dynamic performance. An additional nice touch was when Bachman called upon fellow Canadian Steve Strongman for a rendition of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
Buddy Guy really had nothing to prove as to why he’s the reigning King of the Blues; Mr. Guy was in rare form opening with classic Chicago Blues tunes before turning to new tracks from his latest recording “The Blues is Alive and Well.” You’d never know it but Mr. Guy recently turned eighty-two years old, and if his stellar performance at Trois- Rivières is any indication – Buddy Guy has many more fiery and potent years ahead.
During my final eve in Trois-Rivières, the rain didn’t impede the evening performances as (the free) scheduled outdoor shows were moved into a delightful theatre; Le Memphis Cabaret in the downtown area. I’ve always admired Dawn Tyler Watson’s shows and this night was exceptional, especially when Watson invited saxophonist Jimmy Carpenter to the stage. Watson is super-fine and versatile vocalist who doesn’t need any additional guest/support. There’s no doubt that DTW is easily the best vocalist in all of Canada. Hopefully she’ll gain popularity in the USA too; she certainly deserves to be given additional opportunity(s) to attract a worldwide/global audience.
Chris Cain rarely plays NYC and the surrounding areas; I have never seen him perform live, but have been following his career for over twenty years. Needless to say; this was a special treat for me. I’ve seen a lot of great guitar performances in my life, but this has to be one of my favorites. Man Cain wails and sails crafting well-thought-out solos, playing song after song like it was his last performance, and holding his guitar like it was his first-born child. Whew! What a night, Cain’s band was also top-shelf. It was also obvious that Mr. Cain was moved by the many standing ovations he received. So come on Blues Foundation, get this guy on your radar screen (at minimum) for a nomination for Best Blues Guitarist for a potential Blues Music Award. Long story short: See Chris Cain in person, you will not be disappointed with his fluid and hair-raising guitar playing nor with Cain’s powerful vocals.
So there you have it. My second Province of Québec Canadian musical adventure of 2018; the Tremblant Blues Fest was the other. Both festivals offer high-quality and memorable concerts. Much of this has to do with the French-Canadian promoter Brian Slack who previously won a Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the Blues Foundation for the aforementioned Tremblant Blues Fest. Now I’m figuring its due-time for a second Keeping the Blues Alive Award, this time for the Trois-Rivières en Blues Fest
Until next year many others (myself included) will be looking forward to what Trois-Rivières concocts for its 2019 Blues Fest. For the readers of this column; seriously consider visiting Three Rivers, Quebec next August; it’s a great area, and reliably offers this wonderful Blues Festival. Nonetheless: Keep checking: www.3renblues.com
Last but not least, a warm thank you to Brian Slack and to Nancy Munger for having me back at www.3renblue.com And for also putting us at a wonderful Trois-Rivières downtown bed & breakfast: www.ManorDeBlois.com The accommodations were charming and the daily homemade breakfast’s prepared by Roch Parent were delectable.
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Bob Putignano: Homegrown & On-Demand Sounds of Blue Radio Shows: Always on 24×7 at: www.soundsofblue.com/radioshowsmp3.htm
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