Saskatoon Blues Festival Marks 10th Anniversary

Published: Feb 15, 2012

The Saskatoon Blues Society fills February with regular season programming and Saskatoon Blues Festival events.

SASKATOON, SK – The Saskatoon Blues Society is gearing up for their biggest annual celebration: the Saskatoon Blues Festival. The festival will be marking their 10th anniversary February 23 – 26.

The festival program includes an impressive line-up of performances shared between two venues: the Electric Blues Room at the newly renovated Odeon Events Centre, and the Acoustic Blues Room at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Saskatoon.

This year’s festival has attracted blues master Tracy Nelson, with 26 albums to her credit and over 40 years in the music business. Florida-based JP Soars and the Red Hots – 2009 International Blues Challenge winners – are making their Saskatoon debut during the blues festival. And travelling from Edmonton, Boogie Patrol is bringing their high energy blues/funk/soul music to Saskatoon. The band has been described as the youthful future of the blues. The full program – with a total of 13 artists and bands – touches on a variety of blues styles, with wide appeal for various audiences.

“The Saskatoon Blues Society is passionate about bringing blues music to Saskatoon, not only for the festival, but all year round,” says Susan Scharf, chair of the 2012 Saskatoon Blues Festival. “We’re very excited to kick off the festivities and know that our line-up offers enough variety for everyone from novice to experienced blues fans to enjoy.”

Run by volunteers on a limited budget, Tourism Saskatoon is again a financial supporter through the organization’s joint marketing fund, which provides eligible applicants with the ability to strengthen their marketing campaigns and reach.

“Part of our mandate is to support tourism industry development in Saskatoon,” says Tourism Saskatoon’s president and chief executive officer Todd Brandt. “A big part of that is by helping our festivals and events grow and attract new visitors.”

Outside of the official festival dates, the Saskatoon Blues Society has a strong program of blues performances and workshops as part of their regular season. This includes Affinity Credit Union Blues Outreach, SaskTel Blues in the Schools, Lounge Series, and Affinity Credit Union Blues Camp.  

A highlight of the pre-festival programming is a special screening of Rita Chiarrelli’s documentary Music from the Big House. An award-winning recording artist, Chiarelli chronicles her pilgrimage to the birthplace of the blues: Louisiana State Maximum Security Penitentiary. The documentary follows Chiarelli on her journey to the prison where she found inspiration in the stories of the inmates and in their love of music.

The documentary screens at the Roxy Theatre Wednesday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m. Chiarelli will be available afterwards for a question and answer period with the audience. Tickets cost $5 each and are available at the Roxy Theatre. All proceeds from ticket sales will go to Saskatoon Interval House.

For festival programming, tickets range between $10 and $30 each. They are available at Long & McQuade, McNally Robinson Booksellers, St. John’s Music, and all Cherry Insurance locations.

For more information about the Saskatoon Blues Festival and the Saskatoon Blues Society, visit

For more information about visiting Saskatoon, visit

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For more information:

Susan Scharf
2012 Saskatoon Blues Festival
Tel: 306-249-3696

Kelly Bertoncini
Director of Media
Tourism Saskatoon
Tel: 306-931-7585

About the Saskatoon Blues Society
In January 2001 the Saskatoon Blues Society was incorporated with the goal to promote, foster, support, and celebrate Blues music in Saskatoon and Saskatchewan. Their objectives were to organize an annual Blues Festival, create additional performance opportunities for local musicians, and provide opportunities for blues fans and musicians to share their knowledge and experience with others. Members receive discounted prices to local Saskatoon Blues Society sponsored events, and have the opportunity to participate as musicians in a variety of events and workshops. For more information, visit

About Tourism Saskatoon
Tourism Saskatoon is a membership-based, non-profit visitor and convention bureau marketing Saskatoon and region as a destination of choice for leisure and business travel. Services include convention and events attraction, media relations, and membership services and advocacy. One of only a few destinations in Canada, Tourism Saskatoon holds Destination Marketing Accreditation by Destination Marketing Association International. Nicknamed “the hub city” for its numerous domestic and international transportation connections, Saskatoon is known for its expansive parklands and admired for its arts and culture scene, festivals and major sporting events. For more information, visit


The Saskatoon Blues Festival has secured the following 13 artists and bands for their 2012 program, marking the 10th anniversary of the festival.

Eddy Robertson & the Electric Blues Band: This local band is no newcomer to blues music in town; they are a mainstay of the Saskatoon blues scene.  Their sound is Chicago and traditional Delta Blues, the way it is meant to be played.  Robertson is one of Saskatoon’s rare full-time and well known blues musicians. Along with Blair Finley on lead guitar and Lynn Victoria on bass, there is no better way to start off the night.

Brian and the Promises: Brian McAreavey is a veteran bluesman who has traveled the blues circuit from Calgary to Austin and back again.  This local, seasoned band creates a Texas blues sound. They also play swing and Chicago or Delta blues.

Boogie Patrol: This blues/funk/soul band is from Edmonton, formed in 2007. They have opened for The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Buddy Guy. Boogie Patrol combines mind-bending guitar, keyboard, and harmonica solos with a rhythm section you can’t help but move and groove to. Boogie Patrol is the youthful future of the blues in Canada.

Coco Montoya: An American blues guitarist and former member of John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Montoya was mentored by legendary bluesman Albert Collins, and is a Blues Music Award winner and four time nominee.  Montoya is considered the “hottest southpaw of the blues” and a favourite of the jazz and blues festival scene, averaging 200 tour dates per year. Montoya will deliver blistering, pure blues to Saskatoon, guaranteed.

David Gogo: This West Coast guitarist is considered to be Nanaimo's gift to the blues. He is touring in support of his 12th release: Soul Bender. Gogo is two time Maple Blues Guitarist of the Year, WCMA Musician of the Year, and is up for two 2012 Maple Blues nominations. Gogo has shared the stage with BB King, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins and other blues legends. He is a world class bluesman, who brings cutthroat wit and virtuosic blues guitar playing to the stage. His passion for the acoustic roots of the genre can plainly be seen in his solo acoustic performances that feature both blues standards and heartfelt originals.

Elmer Ferrer: This Cuban-Canadian is one of the world's premier multi-award winning guitarists.
He mixes Cuban jazz with electric blues. Ferrer has toured the world with his band, thrilling crowds with his blazing guitar riffs of jazz, blues, and rock. He has performed at international music festivals.  Whatever unique style Elmer and his band are playing in, the blues are never far away.

Jimmy D. Lane: The son of legendary Jimmy Rogers, Chicago’s Jimmy D. Lane’s music is on the rockin’ side, but is tempered with just the right amount of blues tradition.  Lane may have blues royalty in his veins, but he’s not resting on those laurels.  The Hendrix/Vaughn influence can be heard in his searing guitar solos. Lane is a passionate blues singer, songwriter and guitarist.

JP Soars and the Red Hots: This Florida-based trio is one of the hottest new blues acts on the scene. The 2009 International Blues Challenge winners bring their low down dirty blues sound to Saskatoon for the first time. They are touring in support of their new album More Bees with Honey. Soars’ guitar work is dynamite and his gravelly vocals suit his material well.

Kirby Sewell Band: This Calgary-based monster six-piece extravaganza band performs what they call alternative blues. Kirby Sewell is one of the finest male blues vocalists in Canada and was voted Top Blues Vocalist at the 2008 Calgary International Blues Festival. This band is known for their driving, sweaty, emotional performances. The big man “brings it all” to the stage with his mix of blues, rhythm and blues, gospel and country.

Nigel Mack & the Blues Attack Large Band: From Saskatoon to Chicago to Vancouver, bluesman Nigel Mack is a triple threat with vocals, harmonica, and guitar. Both his slide style and his harp work are refreshingly unforced. This festival will be the debut of Mack’s Saskatchewan Blues Attack Large Band. As a performer, Mack pays respect to the blues greats who have influenced his music while embracing the modern funk/blues sound.

Steve Strongman: This Hamilton-based dynamic performer brings impeccable guitar melodies, emotion-charged vocal harmonies, and a warm and vivid presence to the stage. Strongman honed his blues skills as a young man under the tutelage of Mississippi blues legend Mel Brown Strongman was a Maple Blues nominee in 2007 and 2008, and was honoured as the 2011 Guitar Player of the Year.  Strongman opened for Buddy Guy on his Canadian tour dates. His acoustic shows are a study in fingerpicking, with vocals to match.

Rita Chiarelli: One of Canada's most highly acclaimed female roots and blues artists, Rita Chiarelli is known across Canada as the "goddess of the blues." Chiarelle's new release, her ninth recording, is the soundtrack to the award-winning documentary Music from the Big House. She is a Juno Award winner and four-time nominee, as well as the recipient of multiple Maple Blues Awards, including the prestigious Blues with a Feeling award for lifetime achievement. Chiarelli is a powerhouse performer with a stunning three-octave range. She possesses a voice so blue it could make angels weep.

Tracy Nelson: Tracy is touring in support of her 26th and newest album Victim of the Blues.
Her career spans over 40 years in the music business. She has received two nominations for the 2012 Blues Music Awards: one for the Koko Taylor Award (traditional blues female) and the other for Traditional Blues Album for Victim of the Blues.

101-202 Fourth Avenue North, Saskatoon, SK S7K 0K1
Phone: (306) 242-1206 | Fax: (306) 242-1955 | 1-800-567-2444