Singin' the blues

Staff ~ The Truro Daily News
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Dutch Mason Blues Festival rocked on despite poor weather

John Campbelljohn put his heart and soul into his performance at the Dutch Mason Blues Festival on Sunday afternoon in Bible Hill. Campbelljohn, from Cape Breton, was one of many musicians who drew large crowds despite the inclement weather. Monique Chiasson - Truro Daily News

BIBLE HILL - With a big smile, Sharon MacKinnon pulled out her umbrella in the midst of a heavy downpour and happily settled under it to enjoy a day of blues music.

That was a common sight at the eighth annual Dutch Mason Blues Festival in Bible Hill on Sunday afternoon. The afternoon began with a few dozen people waiting for the main concert, which included John Campbelljohn and Dan Doiron.

Within less than an hour, hundreds of people had gathered and hundreds more were expected to attend, despite the inclement weather.

"I need a bigger umbrella," MacKinnon, from Charlottetown, laughed as she sat back and enjoyed a performance by Campbelljohn. "This is my first year and I love the music."

Wentworth's Anne Malick couldn't imagine not attending the three-day festival.

"This is my sixth time here. There are great performers, they have energy and it's in the open air with free movement and there's a whole range of music," said Malick, adding her favourite musicians were Lukas Nelson and the Georgia Satellites.

"That's the secret to its success ... it's predictability with top-notch performers."

However, there is one piece of advice she'd offer for future festivals.

"I'd like to see a showcase of local talent."

Other blues lovers who came from near and far were thrilled with the festival. It's estimated by concert-goers that close to a 1,000 people attended Friday night's event, which included fireworks. Saturday also boasted large numbers, including a packed raceway that evening for musicians Charlie A'Court, James Cotton, John Oates and others.

Vendors had mixed reviews about the crowds. Some said it was on par with last year while others said there were "a lot less" people.

Bill Goldade travelled from Alberta for the festival. It was his first year and although he couldn't see the one band he hoped to see, Goldade was pleased with the event.

"I came for the Marshall Tucker Band ... they have been one of my favourites since the 1970s," said Goldade.

The band had to cancel its appearance at the festival due to the death of guitarist Stuart Swanlund.

"This has been great though. Blues is relaxing music and Truro is a neat town," added Goldade.

Musicians also appreciated the festival, including Halifax's Dan Doiron.

"We've seen top acts in the world here and the festival gives a lot of Atlantic Canadian artists an opportunity," said Doiron. "There's a real blues community that's served well by this festival and it's the highlight of my summer personally."

Festival producer David DeWolfe said he was "very satisfied" with the weekend.

"People are saying, ‘thank you for doing it.' There are some loyal Dutch Mason fans ... there are some hard core fans who are here in the pouring rain under their umbrellas."

There's "always uncertainty" about continuing the venue, DeWolfe said, but because of the positive feedback and how well everything came together, despite the weather, DeWolfe said the festival will return next year.

"We are coming back," he told the Truro Daily News on Sunday afternoon.

DeWolfe was also pleased to see more younger people getting involved. He especially noticed more of a younger generation enjoying the Sheep Dogs concert on Friday night.

As for next year, DeWolfe said Shirley King and Marshall Tucker have indicated they will return and "I have my eye on a few others," said the producer. "I'm always looking for something new and surprising."

Organizations: Georgia Satellites, Halifax, Truro Daily News

Geographic location: Bible Hill, Charlottetown, Alberta

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