Friday, September 19, 2008

Great Atlantic Blues & Beyond

We made it. And so did the festival. I don't have time this morning to talk much about the opening night, but here's a few pics below to act as a placeholder! The local paper, the Halifax Metro, reports in a headline that there is "chaos prior to Blues and Beyond fest opening." Rick Derringer is no longer attending, the show has been moved indoors... Our Friday night show is now a Sunday night show, and the Theatre Stage shows have been moved to a giant, open mall area under the Theatre. The outdoor big stage shows now will play the Theatre. There is great ticket value here to see some major acts in the rather intimate Theatre Hall. A great room with good sightlines and a low stage. You could stand maybe 12 feet away from Johnny Winter or Charlie Musselwhite... or John Hammond. John is scheduled to play at exactly the same time as Michael and I on Saturday. This is a double whammy as we'd like to go see him ourselves, and it will unfortunately divide the acoustic blues demographic...

Today is Michael Pickett's birthday. Happy Birthday, Michael. I'm sorry I didn't get you a cake or something, but you know, Happy Birthday. The next twenty are going to be very good.

OK, so here's Halifax from the gig site.

One of the bridges connecting Halifax and Dartmouth. There's a cool ferry service as well. Our hotel is not far from here, and since we've had our Friday night show rescheduled to Sunday night, we are free to socialize and catch some music this evening.

I didn't have any festival ID for food, so I went outside and hung out a bit with Billy the Wing Guy. I had scallops and they were GOOD. No ID required.

John Campbelljohn got things moving with his trio, and we chatted for a while backstage. Brian Slack came in from Montreal for the festival, and I was surprised to see him out of context as he popped into the dressing room! Should not have been. Brian's a major booster of the blues in Canada, and he was here to lend his support to both the organizers and the artists. I noticed at least one other festival AD in the crowd. Ticket sales were not as high as anticipated, and everyone is hoping for the best. A festival like this is a massive undertaking, and we'd all like to see it continue, and we all hope that no one takes a personal loss. It's easy to be an armchair critic, but it takes a lot of guts to put everything on the line and go for it. The weather is good! Maybe a big whack of people will buy last minute tickets?

Fathead arrived for their show, and it was old home week in the hotel lobby. Later, they were joined by Lance Anderson for this gig, and it was very cool to hear the band with him. They were great. Here's Michael and Al after the show.

Some of us went across to Halifax after the last concert. Here's what was going on at Bearly's House of Blues. MonkeyJunk with Steve Mariner and Tony D. A fun show with huge promise. Very interesting format for a blues trio. We chat for a while between sets and hang with blues pals Andy, Dale and Shirley. I discover that several local shows have been dropped from the bill. That's unfortunate, as a festival like this could really help their profiles and give them a boost.

Michael and I back to our hotel at a reasonable hour. We'll have a slow start to our Friday, but then things will get interesting.

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