“We wanted to do our own thing, something a little bit bigger,” says Thunder Bay Blues Society (TBBS) president Rob Croves. “We decided to hold a one-day indoor Blues Blast featuring both local and prominent international acts. The name described it quite well.” This was the spring of 2020. When the Thunder Bay Blues Festival announced that they wouldn’t be staging a show that year, the timing for the Blues Blast seemed propitious. But two weeks away from blast off, with ticket sales very strong, COVID-19 restrictions scrubbed the launch.

If there’s one axiom that the TBBS has taken to heart from its chosen musical genre, it’s that calamity isn’t something that should overwhelm, but is rather something that should be overcome. The Blues Blast concept was deferred but never abandoned. Now as the TBBS celebrates its 25th anniversary, they’re is pleased to announce that Blues Blast 2023 will be held at the Da Vinci Centre on May 27. Remarkably, the original line-up and ticket prices remain intact. “All of the bands kept in touch with us,” says Croves. “They were definitely interested if we wanted to try it again.”

Local acts Brother John (Ted Hamill, solo) and perennial crowd favourites The Chain will get the festivities rolling. Recognized as one of today’s premier young harmonica players and the centre of a soulblues revival, Memphis-based Tony Holiday will kick start his Canadian tour at Blues Blast 2023. Working out of Chicago, Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames are renowned for their high energy show of house-rocking blues, funk, boogie, powerful female vocals, and earthy slide guitar. Among the finalists at the International Blues Challenge in 2020, their latest album, Nightwalk, was listed at number 36 on Living Blues Magazine’s Top 50 CDs of 2022.

Blues Blast 2023 headliners Mississippi Heat are a longstanding musical institution in Chicago. Led by Pierre Lacocque, a world-class master of the harmonica, the band lives by its motto, “Traditional blues with a unique sound.” Madeleine, the latest pearl in a long string of critically acclaimed albums, was listed at number 22 on Living Blues Magazine’s Top 50 CDs of 2022.
Three years of hard work and persistence has certainly paid off for the TBBS and the Blues Blast. “Now, we’re looking at it as an annual event,” says Croves.

Watch out on our social media for more updates about Blue Blast 2023 and visit thunderbaybluessociety.ca

Story by Ken Wright

Photo: Mississippi Heat, the headliner for this event!