Signature - McCullough

Marlin Travel

Signature Ad


Big Box

Arts & Life
Click here to see more
Community Calendar
Click here for full listings.
Are you planning on attending this week's public session on the Event Centre project?

Total Votes: 19
View Results Past Polls
User Submitted Photo Gallery
Submit Your Own Photos
2014-03-19 at 16:07

Blues Fest rocks

By Leith Dunick,
St. Joseph FoundationGrand A Day Draw tickets are now on sale. $1,000 daily draws in November. Grand Prize draw is for $10,000. License #M738339Click Here

If you came of age in the 1990s, the headliners for this year’s Thunder Bay Blues Festival should be right up your alley.

The annual Marina Park event, arguably the most popular staged in the city each summer, has no shortage of big-name talent at the top of its 2014 bill, starting with the smoky sounds of 15-time Grammy nominee Melissa Etheridge.

Add in the likes of California’s Rival Sons, Jimmie Vaughan and the Tilt-a-Whirl Band, The Wallflowers, Serena Ryder and ‘90s hit-makers the Spin Doctors and festival organizers have cooked up a recipe for musical success.

“We were trying to do a wide variety of things here,” said Blues Festival spokesman Trevor Hurtig. “We wanted to make sure we had some solid blues in there as always, but we also wanted to continue what we did last year, which was to introduce new people to what’s going on down at Marina Park.

“With acts like Melissa Etheridge, Wallflowers, Serena Ryder and the Spin Doctors the idea was to bring as many different people down there, but still satisfy the blues crowd.”

Etheridge is a fitting choice to culminate the July 4-6 festival’s opening day.

The Kansas-born singer-songwriter rocketed to fame in 1989 and rolled off a string of hits, culminating in Grammy best rock vocal performance wins in 1993 and 1995 for Ain’t it Heavy and Come to My Window.

The 52-year-old was also honoured in 2006 with a best original song Oscar for her song I Need to Wake Up, written for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.



Etheridge leads a Friday lineup that starts with a little local flavour when James Boraski and Momentary Evolution take the stage.

Canadian guitarist Steve Hill, once proclaimed the best young blues guitarist in North America by Real Blues magazine and the “meanest guitar player in Canada” by The Hour’s B.B. Burnett, is second on the opening-night bill. He’ll be followed by fellow Canadian blues and jazz vocalist ShakuraS’Aida.

Saturday night headliners Rival Sons, whose songs Until the Sun Comes and Wild Animal have enjoyed modest success and plenty of airplay on rock radio stations across the continent – including our own Rock 94 – are often loosely compared to ‘60s and ‘70s greats like Led Zeppelin, the Animals, Deep Purple and Bad Company.

“Jimmy Page is quoted as saying he has all of their CDs and really likes their sound,” Hurtig said. “Although they are certainly heavier than Tedeschi Trucks was, they are similar in the sense that they are right on the cusp of superstardom.”



They’ll put an end to a fabulous day of music that starts with Thunder Bay’s own The Chain at noon and continues through the likes of the Groove Merchants, The C-Notes, Mathew Curry & the Fury, James Hunter, Carolyn Wonderland and Vaughan, one of the founders of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, the older brother of late guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan, a headliner-sized act capable of carrying any blues festival lineup on his own.

After last year’s Great Big Sea finale, Blues Fest organizers set a Sunday precedent they knew wouldn’t be easy to live up to.

With a revamped, Jakob Dylan-led Wallflowers, and the band celebrating its 25th anniversary, festival booker Bob Halvorsen and company might just have done it.



In 1996 the band rocketed to stardom with the quadruple platinum release Bringing Down the Horse, which delivered hits like 6th Avenue Heartache, One Headlight and Three Marlenas. Two years later their cover of David Bowie’s Heroes kept them in the spotlight.

“I’ve got to admit, I’m a big fan of the Wallflowers,” Hurtig said. “I really enjoyed then and that Bringing Down the Horse album is still (frequently) played in my car. So I’m definitely looking forward to seeing that one.”

They’re the final act of a one-two-three punch to close the festival that includes jam-band favourites the Spin Doctors, authors of hit like Two Princes, Jimmy Olsen’s Blues and Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong, and Toronto’s Serena Ryder, whose influences include everyone from Michael Jackson and Stevie Nicks to Ella Fitzgerald and Leonard Cohen.



Other Sunday acts include the city’s own Tracy K, Annie Mack, Ken Valdez, Pavlo and Erja Lyytinen, who’ll bring a touch of the Finnish blues to Thunder Bay this summer.

Tickets for the 13th annual Thunder Bay Blues Festival go on sale on Friday at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium box office. Day passes are $69 apiece, while a weekend pass costs $109. VIP passes are $159. Ticket prices do not include handling fees.



Click here to report a typo or error

Banner/Vector Construction


We've improved our comment system.
idontknowitall says:
Well, we weren't planning on doing a 3-day weekend this time around, but - wow. Congrats, Mr. Halvorsen and co. Now, can you work on the weather a little more this year? :) Cheers!
3/20/2014 5:46:21 AM
fastball says:
Looks like another great lineup - I'll be grabbing a pair of tickets for sure.
I'm not sure exactly, but I'll bet there were 5000 people there last summer for Great Big Sea...(and everyone seemed to find parking) - hopefully there will be as many this summer!
3/20/2014 7:29:03 AM
Today1 says: carefull that you don't get clobbered by a cane from one of those 4999 caneshakers that are always there...hahahaha....starting with the likes of Boshcoff, Hobbs, Virderamo....
3/20/2014 11:31:53 AM
sky high says:
I'm in on this for sure, great line-up. I really do think we should hold this at Innova Park though because of all the copious places to park. Is there time for a plebiscite to decide location for Bluesfest?
3/20/2014 8:04:39 AM
common cents says:
No a plebiscite is not required for a:

"2 1/2 Day Event"

Does this event have bus shuttles?

Just asking?

never mind they do,

Free parking available at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium. You may access Thunder Bay Transit from the Beverley St. Bus Stop - directly across from the Auditorium. Parking at the Auditorium Parking Lot is at your own risk.

Hmmmm wonder why?

3/20/2014 7:10:05 PM
fastball says:
You could say something else. Like, what exactly are you saying for instance? Are you saying that the hotels will be filled up by people coming here to hear the blues? Not if there's no blues on the stage they will not be filling anything but their chair backs in front of their t.v.'s. They sure aren't going to come here from duluth for the spin doctors.
3/22/2014 8:39:06 AM
rob20 says:
Awesome line-up again, great job by the organizers. Looking forward to it.
3/20/2014 8:17:25 AM
zeppelin says:
Sounds like a good one...but why does the price have to keep going up every year!
3/20/2014 8:45:16 AM
Leith Dunick says:
Ask and ye shall receive. A response direct from Bob Halvorsen:

"Price increase this year due to the drop in the cdn dollar vs us. Most of our expenses are artist fees and they are almost all US artists who get paid in US dollars. We didn't want to increase prices this year but the last month has seen our dollar drop 10%."
3/20/2014 9:18:42 AM
bttnk says:
Great work Leith. thanks!
3/20/2014 9:21:57 AM
zeppelin says:
Fair enough, that's understandable, at least there is a good reason for it. Thanks for clearing that up. I'll be going regardless of the price increase, sounds awesome this year!
3/20/2014 9:33:48 AM
Et says:
Awesome!!! Can't wait
3/20/2014 9:07:06 AM
bttnk says:
Sign my family of 5 up for a weekend pass! Looking forward to spending the weekend at the waterfront with music lovers from all over the region. See you there!
3/20/2014 9:20:31 AM
NewAgeOutlaw says:
Good line up, getting bands that people can relate to that we have all grown up with and that were current is a big plus.
3/20/2014 10:01:47 AM
jonthunder says:
Perhaps rename the Blues Festival "The Music Festival".....
3/20/2014 11:34:29 AM
deluxecustom says:
With all due respect to the organizers of the "Blues" fest, I will play devils advocate.
Last year I chalked the eclectic line up to the stars misaligning to grab true blues greats and contemporary artists being able to meet schedules for the July weekend. Kim Mitchell jumping around playing " Go for a soda" while the leader of a sea shanty singing folkie band sings his lyrics, or, Collective "Soul" belting out 90's light grunge tunes completely missed its mark. While attendance records seem to be the de facto method of gauging success, is this really what the Thunder Bay "Blues Society" set out to accomplish? Did they loose vision? Maybe time for a name change? "Thunder Bay Mediocre Middle Of The Road Semi Retired In It For The Money Fest"? I think Halvorsens quote sums it up best " “We wanted to make sure we had some solid blues in there as always, but we also wanted to continue what we did last year," Which was what? Shovel old radio hits to the crowd and call it a Bluesfest? sad.
3/20/2014 11:58:27 AM
sky high says:
Wow, some people just don't know how to relax and be happy with what they have. No one cares if you don't approve. You want to be miserable, just stay away from the marina. Put your Madonna on the turntable or whomever you wish would appear and take a long nap. You make the whole thing about the name, instead of maybe giving artists the credit they deserve. I suppose you have a multi-million dollar selling album out there? Please....
3/20/2014 7:20:40 PM
jaxoon says:
Unfortunately, the festival became too big for the Blues Society. They turned it over to the TBCA a few years back. Since then, Bob et al have done a good job of turning it from the the best blues line up in North America to just another concert. Takes some stellar work to go from the amazing 2012 line up to this in just two short years.
3/20/2014 8:57:21 PM
fastball says:
OMG deluxecustom, I could not have said it better myself!!! "Thunder Bay Mediocre Middle Of The Road Semi Retired In It For The Money Fest"!!! Brilliant! This is exactly what it has become. So true. BRING BACK THE BLUES!!!
3/22/2014 8:42:12 AM
deluxecustom says:
"We wanted to make sure we have some solid blues acts in there as well"..
That's pretty handy at a "Bluesfest", Bob...
"cooked up a recipe for success"? that's excellent!!too funny.. Please change the name.
How about Thunder Bay Disco Fest? or Thunder Bay Bluegrass Festival? I got it, Thunder Bay Old Timey Radio Pablum Fest..
If you need to tell people who these artists are and only be able to say that Jimmy Page has all their albums, maybe its time to really start booking some talent.I really thought we'd see Trooper in this years line up.They probably had to play Pioneer Ridge that weekend!
3/20/2014 12:10:37 PM
reese says:
Soon it will be time for a location change
RV parking is a must to expand
Having your own food ,refreshmenta and not having to drive home is very convenient
Keep up the good work
3/20/2014 12:28:44 PM
zeppelin says:
To everyone making comments about a location change, while you all make good points, I just have to chime in and say that what I really like about the marina location is that you are able to come and go as you please, you're not "stuck" there for the whole day, you have roaming possibilities. You can go down to the water to cool off, walk to one of the many places around for lunch or what have you and aren't forced to eat from whatever vendors are there, not to say they aren't good, just that you have many more options this way considering you can't bring food in. Also, what about all of the after-shows at the bars in the area, which again you can walk to easily after the final act. I actually really like that part about the bluesfest.
3/20/2014 4:38:45 PM
sky high says:
My suggestion that we have a plebiscite and move it to Innova was sarcasm...sorry you missed that
3/20/2014 7:22:35 PM
Armchair Tom Brady says:
Awesome lineup! Looking forward to it.
3/20/2014 4:54:36 PM
or$en says:
can only agree with deluxecustom

this aint bluesfest
3/20/2014 8:03:12 PM
or$en says:
your right
but whenever we do that we miss entertainment.
we have gone for yrs.. spending is no holds barred.. its a staycation for us .. and have gone for lunch or drinks outside the grounds.... only to be sorry we missed something good.

and for all the parking complainers..we have never had an issue
3/20/2014 8:10:34 PM
sweetazmaple says:
rock fest ????
3/20/2014 11:07:49 PM
JYDOG says:
It's disheartening to see the death of the blues festival. I will go, as usual, and I'll pretend I'm having fun, but with every cliche'd 90's rock hook I'll be reminded it's no longer a blues festival. It's not that the blue notes have gone sour, but they're just no longer blue, so rename the fest to the TBay retread or has-been music fest please, or bring back the blues. Either way, just sad.
3/21/2014 2:17:14 AM
tonytiger says:
As soon as the Auditorium took it over from the Blues Society, it should've changed names, but to their credit, they did try to have a few good turns with the blues for a couple years, so what is happening? One size does not fit all. Thunder Bay deserves a great music fest, and as much as I like Jimmy Vaughan, this ain't it anymore. The drunks will be happy again, but will the blues fans? Once the blues fans are alienated, your core is gone, which doesn't spell doom for the fest, but why continue the charade of calling it a Blues fest? That's actually insulting enough to give a roots music lover the blues.
3/21/2014 2:31:01 AM
tonytiger says:
ALso, I can understand the strategy of upping the price while reducing the quality, but why did they eliminate the youth pricing? Someone above said they are bringing their family of 5, so $575 just to get 2 adults and 3 kids in the gate to see the bob dylan's moody son, those spin guys with a catchy song that is easy forgettable, and that girl that bought david crosby's seed? Um, ok, huh?
3/21/2014 2:35:18 AM
bttnk says:
Hey Tony. All 3 of my kids get free admission as do other young children.
3/21/2014 4:03:14 PM
JYDOG says:
I thought the same thing bttnk, but last year my 7 year old daughter, and my 9 year old son both had to buy $100 tix, so not sure who you're friends with in the box office there, but unless it's a baby in arms, everyone needed a ticket and wristband.
3/21/2014 5:37:28 PM
tonytiger says:
My girlfriend's son has had to pay every year since the Auditorium took over, and he's only 12 now, and he'll have to pay full price again this year if he wants to go. Since this isn't about the blues anymore though, I have to really think hard if this weekend might be better spent doing something else. 12 years was a good run anyway. Nothing good (or bad) lasts forever. C'est la vie!
3/21/2014 6:22:17 PM
fastball says:
I didn't enjoy Great Big Sea at all last year, they are certainly not BLUES, and I will not be going this year, and I will not return unless they either return to the BLUES, change the name to suit this mid 90's one hit wonder motif, or start getting good enough acts that we can casually forget that this is no longer a blues fest.
3/22/2014 2:36:10 AM
fastball says:
I get the whole "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"....but did you not notice a previous poster using the name "fastball"?? Maybe you should try a different user name.
3/24/2014 8:58:48 AM
Comments for this story are semi-moderated. Read our comment guideline.

Add a new comment.
You must log in to add comments.
Create a new account
Forgot password?
Log In