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Ken Wallis Chats With Rick Clarke Founder & Artistic Director Of The Lighthouse Blues Festival


By Ken Wallis.



The Bruce Telecom Lighthouse Blues Festival is billed as the best little blues festival around. It may not be as large as some others, but it certainly packs a lot into a weekend. The festival is situated on the lakeside overlooking Lake Huron beaches, Kincardine Harbour and the iconic Lighthouse. If you’re a blues lover, this is a must attend event.


Ken Wallis interviewed Rick Clarke for the radio show BluesSource Canada. The following excerpts are edited and amended for clarity and brevity.



Ken Wallis

The Bruce Telecom Lighthouse Blues Festival is coming up very soon, July 14th, 15th and 16th, and joining us is Rick Clarke, the president and artistic director of the festival. It's really great to see you again.


Rick Clarke

Thanks a lot Ken. I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you and all of your listeners.


Ken Wallis

How did the festival get started?


Rick Clarke

Just in one of those conversations across the table. We have a good working relationship with The Bruce Steakhouse in Kincardine and we’ve been doing some blues shows with them. Craig and Kelly, the owners of the bar thought that it'd be nice to do something a little special in the summer in their backyard parking lot which overlooks the harbour and the lighthouse. It was a small, two-night Festival that night with a lot of local and regional talent, but it attracted the attention of the local radio station who had some funding for us. So, from 2010 it's just been steadily growing and increasing every year. We've been able to add some new features and attract the support of the business community to allow us to grow.


Ken Wallis

And this festival features not one stage, but a lot of stages. Tell us all about that.


Rick Clarke

The main stage is a ticketed stage on Friday and Saturday night, and that's where most of our national and international touring acts will play, 12 acts in all. A few years back, as we wanted to continue to grow the festival and then share it with the community, we created a Saturday Street Festival which is free. This summer it's going to have altogether seven stages spread throughout the downtown in Kincardine, and of course we've always had the Sunday morning gospel in Victoria Park. I think all together it’s something like 10 stages over the three days of the festival. As I said, the main stage is the only ticketed stage, the rest are all free.


Ken Wallis

And I love the vintage sports car display.


Rick Clarke

We try to make it a family friendly event. With the support of T.D. we have a great children's zone and that's actually one of the special stages this year. We have a children's music stage featuring the songs of Disney. And then we have the crafters, the handicrafters. Marilyn’s working on that, there's probably about 30 crafter vendors that'll be there so there's a little bit of everything on that Saturday Street which is supported by our BIA.


Ken Wallis

Can you walk us through some of the highlights of the main stage acts?


Rick Clarke

We're bringing back Crystal Shawanda, who we like to think is our local girl because she was born and raised on Manitoulin Island, but of course she's in Nashville now. And Bywater Call which is just fantastic. I keep saying that they’re the hottest touring blues act out there right now. Both of those acts were with us last year. They were so well received, we signed them up right away to bring them back this year. Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne is coming, originally from the West Coast but a little more East now. We're happy to have an opportunity to bring in some acts from the States. It's always difficult with us bringing in American artists with the American exchange, but we've got three awesome talents coming from the states. The Cash Box Kings from Chicago, a seven-piece band the people are really going to be impressed by them if they haven't seen them. Gracie Curran played our principal stage a few years back. She's from Boston, Gracie Curran & The High Falutin’ Band. And Cassie Taylor. Now some people may not be familiar with Cassie Taylor, she’s the daughter of Otis Taylor. She's been off the road for the last few years, as a lot of talent has been, but she's back out touring this summer. She's from Kansas City and we love Cassie. We’re happy to be able to present the Durham County Poets, they’re new to this area, but they're really big in the Quebec blues scene. Sandra Bouza, who is an awesome talent out of the Toronto area. We got to see her at the Blues Summit this last winter. Joshua Miller and The Pappy Johns Band were with us last year, and we are happy to bring them back. Also, Little Magic Sam, the Toronto Blues Community will be familiar with Little Magic Sam. He played our street stage last year and I got a lot of buzz on that Saturday about him, so we arranged to bring him back to the main stage. Sarah Smith from Vancouver, originally an Ontario girl, she's back in Ontario for the summer. And Matt Weidinger and the Tonewheels, from the Kitchener area. It's two solid nights, 12 solid acts, certainly worth the price of the ticket.

Ken Wallis

And that's just scratching the surface. Where can folks go to see the entire lineup?


Rick Clarke

We have our website, lighthousebluesfestival.com, that's got all of the details and we're on all the social media platforms.


Ken Wallis

And where can folks get tickets?


Rick Clarke

Ticketscene has been our online ticket sellers, they do a really great job and that's the only available source for tickets.

Ken Wallis

Last year was my first year coming to the festival and I'm going to make sure it's an annual event. It's a beautiful location looking over the harbour and the lighthouse. The one thing I would certainly caution a lot of people about is it gets a little cool there at night with the breeze coming off the water, so bring a jacket. There's plenty of seating, it's a fabulous festival and you guys must put in an awful lot of work to get that together.

Rick Clarke

We have a great team, it's a small team but we've been doing it for now for 14 years, so we've got everything mapped out the way we want it. We're really happy we can we call ourselves the best Little Blues Festival. We're not big like some of the others, but we're very focused and we deliberately restrict tickets to a certain number so that people can be comfortable and up close to the main stage. We have a great weekend experience and Kincardine as a summer destination has a lot to offer. We encourage people to extend their stay, either come early or stay a little longer because it's a beautiful location.


Ken Wallis

There's no doubt about that, Rick thanks so much for your time. I really appreciate it.


Rick Clarke

Well thank you Ken and we look forward to seeing you on July the 14th. Travel safely.





FOLLOW THE LIGHTHOUSE BLUES FESTIVAL



Marilyn & Rick Clarke.

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