Ken Wallis Highlights The Tim Horton’s Southside Shuffle Blues & Jazz Festival In Ontario, Canada
By Ken Wallis.
The Tim Horton’s Southside Shuffle, an annual festival in Port Credit, Ontario, Canada took place September 8th, 9th and 10th. The festival rolled out a lengthy lineup of musicians to celebrate the silver anniversary of 25 years of great music. Founder and Artistic Director Chuck Jackson says over the years he’s most proud of the young performers that get to play the festival and have gone on to successful careers in the music industry.
This article will showcase many of the acts we saw but we have to put a disclaimer out there; it’s impossible to catch every act due to the sheer number of performances. This will be a chronological order of the bands we saw and unfortunately, we didn’t see them all. Our apologies to those we missed.
Late Friday afternoon we ventured out onto the QEW headed for the Southside Shuffle. The QEW, like the Shuffle, offers a steady stream of entertainment. Watching cars weave in and out of lanes without signaling sure catches your attention. Motorcycles performed death-defying feats of daring as they roared through areas only a bike could squeeze through. And fortunately, we had plenty of time to listen to our playlist of music by performers coming to the Shuffle because the QEW was a plugged parking lot.
Once we got into the grounds, we brushed back the QEW hassles and got to enjoy some remarkable talent. There are two main stages in Memorial Park, The Brightwater Main Stage and The Pattison Outdoor Advertising Stage. A smaller, intimate stage is named the Queen Bea stage. We donned our sneakers and sped from one to the other, and then back again.
To kick things off, we caught an act we had never seen before, Sherman Lee Dillon. From Mississippi, this cat blends guitar, harmonica, and his voice into a performance that takes you down South.
Then it was off to see the phenomenal Spencer MacKenzie. We first met him as a youngster, but now he’s a seasoned performer that exudes confidence on the stage. Anyone that can jump around like this, has gotta have blues chops!
Then we backtracked to catch the Novassippi All-Stars. Mississippi was again well represented by this band that featured some wailing harmonica-playing that had your toes tappin’.
Then we hiked over to the Legion to catch our blues sista’ Erin McCallum. Her powerhouse vocals fit like a Michael Jackson glove as she soared along with Teddy Leonard on guitar, Gary Kendall on bass, and Joe Pace on drums. I call her the Rolex of blues singers!
Then we hot-footed it back to the park to experience the Fog Blues and Brass Band. They put out a tsunami wall of sound, led by lead vocalist Hills Walter, who blows a mean harp that accentuates the 7-piece band, with tight horns and a solid rhythm section. If you get the opportunity, go see them. Or get their music. They’re amazing!
And what a great way to close out the evening with David Wilcox. He’s a legend in Canada and for a darn good reason. His music is superb, and he matches that with a stage presence that keeps the audience enthralled and smiling is something you just can’t stop doing.
It wasn’t a long evening, but the old creaky legs sure felt the running around!
Saturday started with a drizzle as we left Hamilton headed back to the Shuffle. When we got to Port Credit, the blues gods had cleared the area and we ready for a day of bluesing it.
Saturdays at the Shuffle features the Rabba Fine Foods Street Shuffle. Part of Lakeshore Road is closed to traffic and bands play up and down the street. There are way too many bands to comment on each, but at least we’ll post a shot of each.
It all kicks off with a street parade.
Let’s do a pictorial tour of the street festival.
Bette Mae and the Strays / Blue Room / Silver Elvis / Hell Bent Rockers / Jessie Murphy Trio / Little Peter and The Elegants / The Cawthra Park Co Lab Jazz Combo / The Offbeats / The Swingin’ Black Jacks / Vivian Clement
What a way to spend an afternoon listening to so many great bands!
Then the main stages struck up again. We missed a lot of the Brightwater Stage bands as we needed a rest and some food to fill our bellies.
But will still got to experience a boatload of blues. We caught Mark ‘Bird’ Stafford who’s a perennial favourite at Southside. And to our surprise, Darren Poole was playing with him. What a great combination!
For a change we stayed put and enjoyed the searing sounds of Jake Chisholm. I think he should be wearing a pair of asbestos gloves ‘cause he sure sets his guitar on fire. His latest album, Hands Held High is brilliant!
Then Joel Johnson took the stage. Maybe I should say Joel Johnson captured the stage as his guitar led the way into a set of rockin’ good blues.
Then we zipped over to the Queen Bea Stage to enjoy a solo set by Juno Award winner, Steve Strongman. It was rather appropriate that such a talented bluesman was bathed in blue lights. Steve knows how to captivate an audience and once again he demonstrated why he’s a blues icon.
We were running out of gas and energy but did catch some of My Son The Hurricane. The reference to hurricane is quite apt as they were a whirlwind of momentum as they literally blew up a storm on stage.
We really wanted to see Matt Anderson but we were done.
The next day we couldn’t attend as we had home things to do, and we had a commitment to go see this guy who certainly knows how to coax a tune or two out of his guitar.
Eric Clapton, Toronto, Canada.
All in all, the 25th Anniversary of Tim Horton’s Southside Shuffle was a sparkling success. Congrats goes out to Chuck Jackson, the board, the volunteers and those great musicians. More pictures are on my Facebook page, Ken Wallis.
A quick shout out to Nick Harding, whose photo genius is on display at just about every blues concert you can imagine. He’s the best concert photographer in the blues world.
Ken Wallis & Nick Harding - Photo Credit: Stevie Connor.
And I have to add congrats to Stevie and Anne Connor. They’ve done so much work to promote music through Blues And Roots Radio and the Sound Café Magazine. So great getting together with them again!
Ken & Angela Wallis with Stevie & Anne Connor at Indian Cuisine By The Lake , Lakeshore Road, Port Credit.