The award winning 15th Orangeville Blues & Jazz Festival returns to downtown Orangeville from Thursday, June 1 to Sunday, June 4.
Recognized as one of the Top 100 Festivals and Events in Ontario for the last six years, this year’s Festival features over 90 acts performing on multiple stages and in a variety of venues over the course of the four-day Festival. With concerts taking place on the Royal LePage Main Stage, in the TD Tent and Orangeville Opera House, in local restaurants and pubs, with special events and workshops, and even a Memorial Jazz March, there is sure to be something for everyone.
Headliners featured this year include the Ben Racine Band who will perform at the Festival Opening Gala. Ben’s soulful voice is reminiscent of the greatest Rhythm and Blues vocalists of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Inspired by artists such as Junior Walker, Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder and Clarence Carter, he will take you back to the days when vocals were the center point of music. He is also a lot more than just a voice. His guitar playing covers a wide range of styles – pleasing blues and funk fans alike. Winner of the “Albert King Award” for best guitarist
performance at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in February 2017, his contagious energy and charisma combine for a sound that is truly original. You’ll be tapping your feet within the first few notes.
Featured on the Royal LePage Main Stage Friday night will be Dawn Tyler Watson from Montreal. Recently returned from Memphis TN, where she took home the coveted 1st place spot out of over 260 acts at the 2017 International Blues Challenge, Dawn is also the recipient of three Canadian Maple Blues Awards and nine Quebec Lys Blues Awards. She’s earned the Screaming Jay Hawkins Award for Best Live Performance, a Trophées France Blues for female Performance, a Trophées France Blues for female International Artist of the Year, and a Canadian Folk Music Award nomination for Best Vocalist. Playing festivals and concert halls across 4 continents, recording four albums, and appearing on numerous compilations, she has shared the stage with an array of premiere artists, including Oliver Jones, Jeff Healy, Koko Taylor, Susan Tedeschi, and Cyndi Lauper.
On Saturday night, the renowned Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials from Chicago will perform on the Royal LePage Main Stage. Coming from Chicago, a city overflowing with unrivaled blues talent, world-renowned Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials have been standing tall for almost 30 years. The band’s big sound, fueled by Lil’ Ed’s gloriously rollicking slide work and deep blues string bending, along with his rough-edged, soulful vocals, is as real and hard-hitting as Chicago blues gets. The Chicago Sun-Times says, “Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials are the hottest purveyors of bottleneck boogie to come out of Chicago since Hound Dog Taylor.”
Bringing the Festival to a celebratory closing on Sunday will be a performance of The Last Waltz – A Musical Celebration of the Band – LIVE taking place on the Royal LePage Main Stage. An all-star Canadian cast of award-winning blues and roots musicians, under the direction of Juno award winning producer and musical director, Lance Anderson, will include Juno and Maple Blues Lifetime Achievement award winner Chuck Jackson (lead singer of the Downchild Blues Band), Jerome Levon Avis (Levon Helm’s godson) the always entertaining Johnny Max, and other special guest singers. The performance will recreate the atmosphere of The Band’s final concert, which was captured in Martin Scorcese’s award-winning concert film, The Last Waltz.