The sun was shinning as new kid on the blues block, Tyler Bryant, came calling. Bryant is no stranger to the Bay, having played a solo acoustic show here last October as the opening act for Jeff Beck. Backed up by The Shakedown, his set featured a hard rock and blues infused sound–a distinct departure from his last visit but equally brilliant. At one point Bryant shouted, “We were too loud for Nashville so we had to come back to Thunder Bay!” Their unique cover of Elvis Presley’s “That’s All Right Mama” garnered a boisterous round of applause from the audience. Keep an ear out for this young man who is sure to be making his mark in the blues world.

Blues fans were dancing in masses as Sonny Landreth unleashed his talent with a unique blend of rhythm, lead guitar, and his mastery of the slide. Landreth, who began playing at the age of 13 and has since racked up 48 years of experience, transcended the audience to the Delta Bayou.

The southern Louisiana trio played a flawless 75-minute set, including past favourite “Brave New Girl,” and new material from their latest album Elemental Journey.

The crowd swelled to over 5000 for headliners .38 Special. The band attained worldwide success in the 70s and 80s and have aged like a good bottle of red wine. They wowed us with hits like “Back Where You Belong” and “Teacher, Teacher” and played a medley of their finest songs–perhaps not what was expected, but appreciated nonetheless. A special tribute to Donnie’s brother Ronnie Van Zandt (Lynard Skynard) drew cheers of praise from the masses and they played their iconic 80s hit “Caught Up In You” as a closer. With the sound of thunder and flashing strobes, the band returned for a three-song encore that featured “Hold On Loosely” and a cover of CCR’s “Travelin’ Band.” It was a great ending to another fabulous Thunder Bay Bluesfest.

– Tracy Sadgrove
– photos by Dave Koski