It was another great
Weekend & Year
The Canton Blues Fest
Over 2000 pictures by What’s Up Ohio
are being edited and will be posted soon!
The Canton Blues Fest is an annual outdoor blues festival, now in its 18th year which takes place on Market Square in downtown Canton.
The 2019 opening acts Low Society and Andy T. featuring Alabama Mike & Anson Funderburgh took the stage on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Below was the jam-packed lineup which featured 18 unique blues acts on two stages.
Friday June 7th Headliner – Tinsley Ellis
Since his Alligator debut 30 years ago, Southern blues-rock guitar wizard, vocalist and songwriter Tinsley Ellis has become a bona fide worldwide guitar hero. Now, he makes his triumphant return to Alligator Records with a powerful new album, Winning Hand. Armed with his signature molten licks, melodic riffs and rousing, intense solos, Ellis, as his legions of fans will attest, is among the blues world’s best-loved, hardest working and most well-travelled statesmen. He has performed in all 50 United States as well as in Canada, Western and Eastern Europe, Australia and South America, earning legions of fans with his guitar virtuosity, passionate vocals and memorable original songs.
Georgia Blue, Tinsley’s first Alligator release, hit the unprepared public by surprise in 1988. Critics and fans quickly agreed that a new and original guitar hero had emerged. A move to Capricorn Records in 2000 saw Ellis revisiting his Southern roots. In 2002, he joined the Telarc label, producing two well-received albums of soul-drenched blues-rock. He returned to Alligator in 2005, releasing Live-Highwayman, which captured the crowd-pleasing energy of his live shows. He followed it with two more incendiary studio releases, 2007’s Moment Of Truth and 2009’s Speak No Evil. He has since self-released four successful albums on his own Heartfixer label.
Over the course of his career, Ellis has shared stages with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, The Allman Brothers, Leon Russell, Son Seals, Koko Taylor, Albert Collins and many others. Whether he’s on stage with his own band or jamming with artists like Buddy Guy, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Gov’t Mule or Widespread Panic, he always plays with grit, soul and unbridled passion.
Friday June 7th Opener – Low Society
Mandy Lemons, winner of the 2015 Emissaries of Memphis Music People’s Choice Award, and her partner Sturgis Nikides, who recorded and toured with legendary Rock & Roll Hall Of Famer, John Cale (of The Velvet Underground), AKA Low Society – are blazing new trails on the stomping grounds of Blues, Roots, and Americana music. Texas Blues, Memphis Rock ‘N Soul and a healthy dose of New York attitude help define the sound and spirit of their music. Their recordings have received critical acclaim world-wide, including numerous Best Of lists, placing on the Roots Music Report Top 50 Blues & Top 50 Blues-Rock Album Charts as well as the prestigious Living Blues Magazine Top 25 Radio Chart. Sirius XM’s Bluesville Channel has had their music in heavy rotation since the beginning of 2015 starting with their second album You Can’t Keep A Good Woman Down, and continuing with their third release, Sanctified. Just returned to Memphis from their third European tour of 2018, Low Society have been on the road in the US & Europe since 2011.
Saturday June 8th Headliner – Kenny Neal
One of the strongest modern proponents of Baton Rouge swamp blues, Kenny Neal is a second-generation southern Louisiana bluesman who is cognizant of the region’s venerable blues tradition and imaginative enough to steer it in fresh directions.
Neal was born on October 14, 1957 in New Orleans. His dad, harpist Raful Neal, was a Baton Rouge blues mainstay whose pals included Buddy Guy and Slim Harpo (the latter gave three-year-old Kenny his first harmonica). At age 13, Neal was playing in his father’s band, and at 17, landed a job playing bass for Buddy Guy.
The guitarist recruited some of his talented siblings to form the Neal Brothers Blues Band up in Toronto before returning stateside. In 1987, Kenny Neal cut his debut LP for Florida producer Bob Greenlee, an updated swamp feast initially released by Kingsnake Records as Bio on the Bayou. The following year, Alligator Records signed Neal and reissued the debut under the title Big News from Baton Rouge!! Young Neal was on his way.
Neal’s sizzling guitar work, sturdy harp, and gravelly, aged-beyond-his-years vocals served him well, and he cut four albums for Alligator Records between 1989 and 1994.
In 1998, Neal moved from Alligator to the blues division of the jazz based Telarc Records, releasing three albums for the label: Blues Fallin’ Down Like Rain (1998), What You Got (2000), and One Step Closer (2001). In the new millennium, Neal recorded sets for a variety of independent labels. Three years later, Neal hooked up with Blind Pig Records and released Let Life Flow in 2008, once again incorporating his gritty Louisiana roots with a sophisticated Chicago/Memphis soul approach. A second Blind Pig release, Hooked on Your Love, appeared two years later in 2010. In 2015, Neal released his first holiday-themed album, I’ll Be Home for Christmas. It was his first album for Cleopatra Records, which also issued his latest critically acclaimed release, Bloodline in 2016.
Kenny’s 2016 release, Bloodline, was nominated for a 2017 Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album and won two 2017 BMAs (Blues Music Awards); one for Best Contemporary Blues Album and the other for Best Contemporary Male Blues Artist. Kenny Neal, a true living blues Legend is THE REAL DEAL and more poised than ever to deliver the blues like no one else can!
Saturday June 8th Opener – Andy T. featuring Alabama Mike & Anson Funderburgh
The Andy T Band, fronted by guitarist Andy T, began in 2011 as the Andy T – Nick Nixon Band, with vocalist Nick Nixon. Upon Nick’s 2016 retirement, Andy T and the band enlisted “Alabama Mike” Benjamin as lead singer. Mike is a dynamic, energetic vocalist that strongly connects with his audience. He delivers a sound that will remind you of a young BB King, Buddy Guy, Elmore James, and Little Johnny Taylor.
Next, Anson Funderburgh joined the band. This BMA-nominated guitarist has led his band Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets since 1977. The band has won 10 Handys. Anson himself has played with Delbert McClinton, Boz Scaggs, Snooks Eaglin, Grady Gaines, Earl King and Jimmy Buffett.
The Andy T Band’s latest release, Numbers Man, was produced by Anson, and features the great Kim Wilson’s harmonica on one of the tracks. The album was nominated for a 2016 Blues Music Award as “Best Traditional Blues Album”, and the band was nominated for “Band of the Year” by the Blues Foundation.
Blues Fest Schedule:
FRIDAY, JUNE 7TH
JEFF POULOS BLUES JAM
COLIN DUSSAULT’S BLUES PROJECT
NATALIE STAMPER AND THE ONE SHOE HIGHWAY
OPENER: LOW SOCIETY
HEADLINER: TINSLEY ELLIS
SATURDAY, JUNE 8TH
DEEP SOUTH AKRON ALL-STARS
ANDY T. FEATURING ALABAMA MIKE & ANSON FUNDERBURGH
HEADLINER: KENNY NEAL
Back Porch Schedule:
FRIDAY, JUNE 7TH
SKIP WERKE AND BC HUDSON
SATURDAY, JUNE 8TH
ERIC BROOKE AND BECKY FLINN
ZAC ADAMS WITH JAKE FRIEL
SUSAN MARIE PROJECT