Organizers of Bluesfest Windsor are hoping any questions about the blues content of next summer’s festival will be put to rest with the announcement of two headliners: Buddy Guy, a living legend of Chicago blues, and Eric Gales, considered one of the best blues guitarists on the planet.
“I don’t know anybody bigger we could get to make the blues purists happy,” said Rob Petroni, president of LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor.
Buddy Guy and Eric Gales will top the festival’s July 12 lineup — a Friday evening, billed as “A Night of Amazing Blues.”
Highly-rated bluesman and fan-favourite Sugaray Rayford will also be featured as a performer and master of ceremonies.
“The feedback we’ve been getting has been off the charts,” Petroni said. “I think it’s gonna be one big jam. It’s gonna be cool.”
Buddy Guy’s place in blues history was secured in the 1950s and 1960s, when he recorded with such Chicago titans as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, and many more.
From there, Guy forged his own crowd-pleasing style, to the admiration of such rock figures as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Now 82, Guy has countless albums and accolades to his credit — and continues to command stages.
Petroni noted that the last time Buddy Guy played Windsor’s blues festival was in 2003, when the event was known as Bluesfest International and under different management.
“We’re very excited. We’ve been trying to get Buddy Guy for years, and this time, it worked out for us,” Petroni said. “People have been asking for him since we took over.”
Memphis-born Eric Gales was a blues-rock prodigy, earning comparisons with Hendrix when he was still a teenager in the 1990s.
Despite his monstrous talent and furious playing, Gales struggled with substance abuse issues — even as his peers declared him among the finest blues guitarists alive.
Now sober and rejuvenated, the “Raw Dawg” has been enjoying a career resurgence, with a new record and rave reviews for his performances around the world.
“Huge comeback story,” Petroni said. “I’m told he’s never been in Canada before.”
Bluesfest Windsor 2019 will take place over two weekends, with the Buddy Guy and Eric Gales lineup representing the second.
The first weekend will feature the return of the “90s Throwback” party — boasting such rap stars of yesteryear as Vanilla Ice, Rob Base, Young MC, Tone Loc, and the 2 Live Crew, all playing their biggest hits on the night of July 5.
The retro rappers gave this past summer’s edition of Bluesfest Windsor the festival’s highest attendance numbers yet. But they also drew criticism from blues purists, who argued that the festival was losing its identity by including hip-hop acts.
Petroni said the strategy to split Bluesfest Windsor 2019 into two weekends was partly to answer such issues, partly to make better use of volunteer resources, and also to encourage even better attendance.
“Now we’ve got two weekends to choose from,” Petroni said.
Want even more? Petroni said the public can expect additional announcements on the 2019 lineup in the new year. “We’ve got a couple treats in store,” he promised.
LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor 2019 happens July 5 to 6 and July 12 to 13 on the Riverfront Festival Plaza. Early-bird and VIP tickets are available now. Visit www.bluesfestwindsor.com for more information and to order tickets online. 19 and older only.