May 2008 Issue
Canton celebrates a special sound this June.
Canton is known for attracting a legendary lineup of players every year to the town’s Pro Football Hall of Fame. Seven seasons ago, a different sort of player also began taking center stage when the city gave birth to a summer Blues Festival.
What began as a group of local musicians getting together for a daylong jam session has blossomed into a two-day fete featuring performances by nationally renowned artists that attracts 15,000 blues lovers from around the country. This year, the event will be held June 20 and 21 in downtown Canton, near the intersection of Market Avenue North and Third Street.
“The festival has grown by leaps and bounds,” says festival committee member Floyd Oryszak. “We literally fill an entire city block with people.”
Festival chairman Bob Bowers is proud of the turnout and the event’s growing reputation. “People from as far away as Columbus, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati make it a point to be here,” he says. “It’s turned into one of the bigger Midwest festivals.”
This year’s lineup includes:
• Colin Dussault, performing his eclectic blend of harmonica-driven, blues-based rock and soul music patterned after the styles of Country Joe and The Fish, The Youngbloods, Woody Guthrie and Cream.
• Northeast Ohio Blues Jam, featuring local musicians playing together.
• Kelly Richey, a blues-based rock virtuoso whose guitar-playing has been compared to that of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
• Joe Bonamassa, a guitarist known for his fusion of electric British blues, traditional Delta blues and rock in the tradition of Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson.
• Blues in Schools, a spotlight of the talents of area high-school students.
• Soul Satyr, a Columbus-based roots fusion band specializing in blues, soul and rock.
• Wallace Coleman, an acclaimed bluesman known for his harmonica-playing prowess.
• Jeff Poulos Blues Revue, showcasing oldies, rock and blues.
• The Fabulous Thunderbirds, a quintet whose versatility spans 30 albums and ranges from pop to blues.
Festivalgoers are also invited to partake of a variety of New Orleans Cajun fare, as well as burgers, hot dogs and traditional midway favorites.
“Success breeds success,” Oryszak says. “What tells us that we’ve done well is when our artists come back to us and say, ‘This has been a great experience.’ That’s a wonderful thing to hear.”
CANTON BLUES FESTIVAL
Friday, June 20:
11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.: Colin Dussault
4:30–6:30 p.m.: Northeast Ohio Blues Jam
6:30–8:30 p.m.: Kelly Richey
8:30–10:30 p.m. Joe Bonamassa
Saturday, June 21:
1–2 p.m.: Blues in Schools
2:30–4:30 p.m.: Soul Satyr
4:30–6:30 p.m.: Wallace Coleman
6:30–8:30 p.m.: Jeff Poulos Blues Revue
8:30–10:30 p.m.: The Fabulous Thunderbirds
Festivalgoers enjoy the Canton Blues Festival.
For more information about the Canton Blues Festival