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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

A Conversation With Chuck Jackson, Artistic Director Of The Southside Shuffle

By Ken Wallis.

Tim Horton’s Southside Shuffle is one of the premiere musical festivals in all of Canada. This year marks the 24th anniversary and it’s going to be one of the best ever. The festival is held in Port Credit with a who’s-who lineup of Canadian and International blues artists.

Ken Wallis interviewed Chuck Jackson for the radio show BluesSource Canada. The following are edited excerpts from that interview.

Ken Wallis

Tim Horton's South Side Shuffle - the 24th annual one is coming up very soon. September 9, 10, 11 and joining us to tell us all about it is Chuck Jackson, founder and artistic director. Chuck thanks for coming on the show.

Chuck Jackson

My pleasure man, it's always good to talk to you.

Ken Wallis

So, you're calling it 24 Karat Blues, the 24th anniversary. How did the Southside Shuffle get started?

Well funny thing is that I grew up in Port Credit and I was raised by my grandparents. We lived at the bottom of Mississauga Road, right on the lake and it was a really tight neighbourhood. It was Port Credit then, there was no Mississauga, and it had its own police force and all the cops lived in the neighbourhood. We closed the street down on a Saturday in September and we'd have a corn roast and my band, which at the time we were still in public school, would play on the street and we'd have a corn roast and have a street party. So, when it came time to do the Shuffle in 1999, I wanted to honour my grandparents and basically have a big giant corn roast. It started out small, but it's turned out to be quite the event now.

It's got to be one of the premier festivals in Canada. I just love coming to it. It all kicks off Thursday September 8th with the Beggar Blues Banquet. Tell us all about that.

Well, we're pretty excited. Finally, a lot of stuff because of Covid, we couldn't have last year, we can this year. Last year we didn't have The Street Shuffle or the Beggar Blues Banquet. For The Beggar Blues Banquet we’ve got my new band The Hogtown All-Stars. We have a new album out. It's doing great and we're gonna be debuting the band basically in Mississauga, with Garnetta Cromwell Hamilton and Quisha Wint, who is actually on the album doing background vocals. And from Mississauga, Stan ‘Dead End’ Street.

Ken Wallis

And as a blatant plug, the album is called Hog Wild. It’s a great album, very enjoyable. Tickets for that event?

You can go to our website at and order there. Tickets also include a southern buffet and it's gonna be a great night.

Ken Wallis

And then the Shuffle really takes off on Friday night with the main stage. Tell us who's going to be on the main stage throughout the weekend.

Well, we start off on Friday with The Ladies Sing The Blues. We've got Garnetta and Dagroovemasters from Hamilton, who actually won The Toronto Blues Society Talent Search. Funny thing is I booked them before they won that, because I just thought they were great.

Then we have Zoom and Sean Kellerman. Zoom is out of Detroit and a fantastic, powerful R&B singer. And then we’re really excited about Erja Lyytinen from Finland. Now that things are back to normal, we can have International and American acts coming back. She’s known as the slide queen of Europe, and she certainly is. She appeared with us in 2019 when we did the Downchild 50th anniversary with Dan Aykroyd and Paul Shaffer and we do a duet of a song I wrote on that album called Mississippi Woman, Mississauga Man.

And then Saturday night it really starts to cook.

Saturday's really happening. Headlining is Kim Mitchell and then of course we have Widemouth Mason. We have a great band from Germany. If you're not aware of them check them out on Spotify or YouTube, a band called WellBad and we got Riley Michaels opening up the show.

Ken Wallis

And then Sunday, well I hate to admit it but it's wrapping up. But what a great lineup for Sunday as well.

Chuck Jackson

Yeah, we've got Jim Dan Dee coming into play and he was a runner-up on The Toronto Blues Society New Talent Search. And of course one of my favourite guys, Steve Marriner, who I’ve known since he was like 15 years old. He played the Shuffle when I think he was 15 or 16.

And then of course, we have well one of my favourite bands, The Ghost Town Blues Band out of Memphis. B.B. King requested them to play at his wake, so they're dynamic, powerful and different. And I guess Downchild must know somebody [LAUGH] because they're playing for the 24th straight year and closing it up.

Ken Wallis

And that’s just the highlights, but there's more than one stage.

Yeah, that's the ticketed stage and tickets are available once again at Also then we've got the free stages. We’re excited on Saturday, we've got the CKRZ Indigenous Stage, and we've got fantastic indigenous blues bands from right across Canada and The United States. We’re gonna have a great lineup there and you can check this out on the website and you can also download our Festival program. You'll get a copy when you're coming in. And then we have the acoustic stage, where we're featuring people like Cheryl Lescomb, Chuckee Zehr, Al Lerman, and Ragwax. And the Rabba Fine Foods Street Shuffle, a free shuffle that's happening from one o'clock to five o'clock. 20 bands on the street, just like Mardi Gras minus the beads. And of course, all the clubs, so all together there's probably about 120 bands playing on the weekend.

I have to ask you Chuck, this must be an incredible amount of work for you and your team. When do you start working on this as soon as the shuffle ends? Do you start up all over again?

Chuck Jackson

Pretty much. We have to close everything up for the year and we have our volunteer party coming up later in in the year. Next year is our 25th so I’ll be really getting on it. I've got a fabulous team, some of the people have been with me for the whole 24 years.

Unfortunately, we've lost some over the years, the majority of us are now all pushing 70 years old and unfortunately it's very hard to find younger people that want to volunteer and get involved in projects like this. We've got a very small paid staff and dedicated people from the Port Credit area.

Ken Wallis

And you’ve got some great sponsors.

Chuck Jackson

We have great sponsors. Kristine Kane is our chair and she's a fabulous grant writer. And of course, Tim Hortons of Mississauga has been our title sponsor for years and years. We've got the city of Mississauga backing us up, The Port Credit BIA are sponsors and just a lot of other people throughout the town that help promote the event and sponsor us well.

It's going to be a fabulous event. I come every year and I can't wait to see it again. And then coming up the 25th. That is going to be something magic.

I’ve already got some ideas and I just can't believe it’s 25 years. When i started the festival there were two bands, Downchild and Fathead and a couple of bands playing in a couple of bars. Jack de Keyzer was one and Jake And The Blue Midnights.

Ken Wallis

It's come a long way Chuck, I thank you for your time and congratulations to you and your team. We know it's going to be a great event

Chuck Jackson

Yeah, I really appreciate it and thanks to folks like you who are helping us promote the event. You've been so great over the years and very much appreciated.

Ken Wallis

Well really looking forward to it, thanks Chuck.

Chuck Jackson

Thank you, buddy.


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