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Retro rappers draw biggest crowd in history of Bluesfest Windsor

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Organizers of Bluesfest Windsor say more changes to the festival are coming after last weekend’s 1990s rap lineup drew 8,000 people — the biggest one-night crowd in the event’s history.

More changes are coming for Bluesfest Windsor after the long-running music festival enjoyed its biggest one-night turnout in its history — thanks to rap stars of the 1990s.

According to LiUNA Bluesfest president Rob Petroni, the “Back to the 90s” lineup on July 15 last weekend — featuring such throwback hip-hop acts as Naughty By Nature, Rob Base, C+C Music Factory, and Vanilla Ice — drew in the range of 8,000 people and counting.

“Yeah, it was not bad,” Petroni said on Tuesday while assessing this year’s edition. “The crowd response was that it was the best ever, times a thousand.”

Petroni said the audience for the rap lineup almost doubled the previous Bluesfest one-night attendance record, and more than quadrupled the audience for the final night of the 2017 edition.

This is not the Bluesfest Windsor of the past. We have now learned what drives tourism to the city, what makes people happy.”

Vanilla Ice urges the crowd to dance for the climax of the “Back to the 90s” lineup on the final night of this year’s Bluesfest Windsor, July 15, 2018. TREVOR WILHELM / WINDSOR STAR

Vanilla Ice urges the crowd to dance for the climax of the “Back to the 90s” lineup on the final night of this year’s Bluesfest Windsor, July 15, 2018. TREVOR WILHELM / WINDSOR STAR

What does that mean for the future of Bluesfest? Petroni said the public can count on the return of a 1990s rap-oriented lineup.

In fact, he’s hoping to book an even bigger “I Love the 90s” tour, which adds such hitmakers of yesteryear as Salt N Pepa, TLC, Tone Loc, and Coolio.

Asked to elaborate on the lessons he has learned from this year’s experience, Petroni noted that Grammy-nominated U.S. blues singer Beth Hart preceded the rap lineup — and her crowd was measured in the hundreds, rather than the thousands.

“Beth Hart is one of the top notch blues artists in the world right now,” Petroni said. “When she was playing her set, I could literally count the people in front of the stage watching her.”

A view of the audience for the “Back to the 90s” lineup of Bluesfest Windsor 2018, taken July 15, 2018. COURTESY OF BLUESFEST WINDSOR / WINDSOR STAR

A view of the audience for the “Back to the 90s” lineup of Bluesfest Windsor 2018, taken July 15, 2018. COURTESY OF BLUESFEST WINDSOR / WINDSOR STAR

As for the criticism that Bluesfest Windsor is moving further and further away from true blues music, Petroni replied: “If anybody thinks they can do a better job of bringing blues acts here and getting crowds out for them, I am more than happy to sit down and help them have their own festival.”

According to Petroni, 70 per cent of this year’s lineup involved the blues, and he was particularly impressed by such blues artists as Danielle Nicole and Sugaray Rayford.

“The blues are still important to Bluesfest,” Petroni promised.

Follow developments on the next edition of LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor at www.bluesfestwindsor.com.

Even without heat advisory, Bluesfest Windsor would have been hot, hot, hot

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An Environment Canada heat warning advised against too much activity, but it didn’t stop thousands from dancing and rocking through the weekend at the 2018 Bluesfest Windsor.

WINDSOR, ONT:. JULY 14, 2018 -- Eddie Money performs on the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor at the Riverfront Festival Plaza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

WINDSOR, ONT:. JULY 14, 2018 — Eddie Money performs on the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor at the Riverfront Festival Plaza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

An Environment Canada heat warning advised against too much activity, but it didn’t stop thousands from dancing and rocking through the weekend at the 2018 Bluesfest Windsor.

Sugar Ray Rayford wades into the crowd during a song as she performs on the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor at the Riverfront Festival Plaza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

Sugar Ray Rayford wades into the crowd during a song as she performs on the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor at the Riverfront Festival Plaza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

Vendors sold and gave away over 24,000 bottles of water to thirsty festival goers before Sunday night.

“The heat’s one step better than a storm, but not by much,” said Rob Petroni, president of LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor.

Neither hot temperatures nor tight security stopped crowds from showing up over four days of live music. Petroni estimates over 23,000 people purchased tickets over the course of the event.

At any given time, between 600 and 700 people were consistently hanging out at the festival food court, according to Petroni. The eating area was beneath some of the 15,000 square feet of plaza covered by tents, where seven vendors served food and drinks.

The first LiUNA Bluesfest’s budget was $135,000. Now in its third year, the 2018 festival budget was $1.2 million.

Around $500,000 of the cost paid for the performers. An additional $50,000 in extra lighting and audio systems went into this year’s event.

“Every year it’s gotten bigger,” said Petroni. “The performers have been nothing short of awesome.”

Artists this year included Eddie Money, Night Ranger, Colin James and Extreme.

Sunday’s Back to the 90’s set featured Vanilla Ice, Naughty By Nature, Rob Base, C+C Music Factory and more.

Eddie Money performs on the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor at the Riverfront Festival Plaza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

Eddie Money performs on the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor at the Riverfront Festival Plaza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

A large crowd was on hand for the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor at the Riverfront Festival Plaza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

A large crowd was on hand for the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor at the Riverfront Festival Plaza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

Fans watch headliner Eddie Money perform on the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor at the Riverfront Festival Plaza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

Fans watch headliner Eddie Money perform on the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor at the Riverfront Festival Plaza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

A pair of boaters take in the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor from the comfort of their boat, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

A pair of boaters take in the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor from the comfort of their boat, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

Jonny Lang performs on the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor at the Riverfront Festival Plaza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

Jonny Lang performs on the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor at the Riverfront Festival Plaza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

Sugar Ray Rayford performs on the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor at the Riverfront Festival Plaza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

Sugar Ray Rayford performs on the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor at the Riverfront Festival Plaza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

A large crowd was on hand for the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor at the Riverfront Festival Plaza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

A large crowd was on hand for the third night of the LiUNA Bluesfest Windsor at the Riverfront Festival Plaza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

LiUNA! Bluesfest Windsor Brings American Pop Rock Icon To Festival Plaza

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Windsor Ontario He’s opened the DTE Summer Concert series in Detroit for 20 years to a packed house of devotees who travel far and wide to catch his chart-topping, double-platinum hits, entertaining shows and musical prowess.

Now, Eddie Money will pack the plaza as the 2018 featured headliner at LiUNA! Bluesfest Windsor, Saturday, July 14.

“Our team has been working very hard to attract this level of star power, and I’m extremely proud to announce Eddie Money is coming back to Canada, to Windsor and especially to Bluesfest,” stated Rob Petroni, President of Bluesfest Windsor. “His music is legendary. He delights new fans and long-time followers at venues across the country with his signature style and passion to perform,” emphasizes Petroni.

Money’s stream of Top 40 hits throughout the 70’s and 80’s, as well as some of the era’s most creative videos included, “Think I’m In Love”, “Shakin” and platinum album Can’t Hold Back featuring the Grammy-nominated duet with Ronnie Spector, “Take Me Home Tonight”. The album also reached number 4 on the Billboard 100 and featured hit song “I Wanna Go Back”.

LiUNA! Bluesfest Windsor promises four days of award-winning artists performing Blues, Rock and 90s Throwback music, Thursday, July 12 to Sunday, July15. Headliners and featured artists include: Night Ranger, Extreme, Pat Travers Band, Colin James, Jonny Lang, Beth Hart, Danielle Nicole, Sugaray Rayford, Angel Forrest and Sunday’s Back to the 90’s Tour with back-to-back performances buy Vanilla Ice, Naughty By Nature, Rob Base, Young MC, and C&C Music Factory Ft Freedom Williams – already 70 % sold out!

Now in its 5th year, of reimagining, Bluesfest Windsor is driven to provide an exceptional concert experience as the region’s premier musical festival. With a volunteer planning team numbering twenty–plus professionals, a growing list of corporate sponsors and a commitment to support community organizations such as Transition To Betterness, our 2018 Charitable Designate, we’re looking forward to an exciting future, Petroni added.

Rap Music at Bluesfest Windsor? Just Bust a Move

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All right, stop! Collaborate and listen: Vanilla Ice, Naughty By Nature, C+C Music Factory, Young MC, and Rob Base might not be the sort of musical acts people associate with the blues — but you’ll be able to bust a move to them at LiUNA! Bluesfest Windsor this summer.

The rappers — who all had platinum singles circa 1988 to 1991 — will perform as a “Back to the 90s” lineup on the final night of the festival, which takes place July 12 to 15.

It’s the first time the long-running Windsor blues festival has featured rap music.

Read the full story on The Windsor Star website.

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