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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Ken Wallis Chats With Claude Cloutier The Artistic Director Of The Kitchener Blues Festival


By Ken Wallis.



The Kitchener Blues Festival has celebrated its 20th Anniversary and the festival is continuing to grow every year. It’s one of the largest blues festivals in Canada featuring a non-stop lineup of top-notch musicians performing on multiple stages throughout Kitchener's downtown core.



Ken Wallis interviewed Claude Cloutier for the radio show BluesSource Canada. The following are excerpts from that interview, amended and edited for brevity and clarity.




Ken Wallis

We’re excited because the Kitchener Blues Festival is coming up. Four days of incredible talent, killer tunes, great times. It's an award-winning festival and it takes place August 10th through the 13th and joining us to tell us all about it is Claude Cloutier, the artistic director of the festival. Claude, thanks for coming on the show.


Claude Cloutier

Thanks for having me Ken.


Ken Wallis

Well, it's a pretty exciting lineup you've got there. First of all, tell us about the one event that kicks off everything on the Thursday night.

Claude Cloutier

Well as most people know we typically have a kickoff show on Thursday night preceding the festival and that's kind of like a fundraiser for us. This year we've got Digging Roots opening up for the Spin Doctors so we're pretty excited about that.


And that's the only event that has a ticket price to it. Everything else is free.


Everything else is free. We've got just that show that night and then you've got three days of four stages and 12 Bar Blues and workshops. We've got probably about 80 shows going on that whole weekend in four days.

Ken Wallis

And you've got some incredible international acts coming as well.


We always try to bring in some very special blues bands that have never played the festival before. This year we've got Thornbjorn Risager and The Black Tornado which we're really excited about because they're really a hot band, and of course Mr. Sipp and a lot of great Canadian talent as well. We have Albert Cummings as well coming from the U.S. So we're pretty stoked about all this, all these great Blues acts coming. And Samantha Fish will be there and I know that she had to pull out last year but we definitely wanted her to come back. So, we've got her this year.

Can you just walk us through some of the highlights? You've got so many bands I know it's almost impossible to pick a few but you've got some great talent coming.


We've got great national talent with MonkeyJunk and Dawn Tyler Watson and the Weber Brothers. We've got Downchild Blues Band coming. These are all great Canadian blues bands that we're going to be having. As well we're gonna have some non-blues acts, not a whole lot but we've got half a dozen bands that are going to be interesting and fun for people who are not necessarily into blues.


Ken Wallis

And you've got others like Steve Strongman, David Gogo, the list goes on and on. I always liken the Kitchener Blues Festival as a sort of Hallowe’en. You go from one stage to another to get a treat.

Claude Cloutier

I can guarantee you one thing. I know that some people they say, "oh why aren't you completely Blues?" Well I want to make sure that we continue to maintain our Blues Festival status and we certainly are that. We are definitely 80 percent Blues and anybody who really likes blues will be able to see blues at any time of the day, at any given day. We're still going to continue that.

I think it's great that you have some non-blues acts because that might attract some different audiences that may just stick around and start getting into the blues as well.

Most definitely. Last year we had non-blues acts and they were really well received and to be honest those shows really pay for the blues shows that we're presenting for free. And of course our demographics is getting a little bit wider, we're getting younger people out to the festival, which is what it's all about. We always want to make sure that there's a great hot blues band playing right before a non-blues act so that you know we can introduce younger people or other people to the blues genre.


Ken Wallis

And one thing for sure, there's lots of food to be had. There are great food vendors there, it's not only just the music.


Claude Cloutier

Oh yes, we've got food trucks all the way down King Street. We've got some in the park and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that we have a children's stage as well in the park. We do something for the kids there. I know we have John McKinley year after year, presenting a Blues in a school kind of presentation, a little bit of a history in the Blues.


Ken Wallis

Where can listeners go to find out the schedule for the whole festival?

Claude Cloutier

Go to kitchenerbluesfestival.com website and you'll have all of our schedules there, as well as some information about how to pick up tickets for our Thursday night with Digging Roots and the Spin Doctors.

Ken Wallis

Well Claude it's just going to be a fabulous Festival I love coming to it every year.





FOLLOW KITCHENER BLUES FESTIVAL






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