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In The Hills: Let The Good Times Roll

Let The Good Times Roll

As organizers, musicians and fans gear up for the 20th Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival in June, they reflect on the profound power of filling a small town with big sounds.

March 16, 2024 | Tony Reynolds | Arts

For 19 of the past 20 years, June’s first weekend has brought live music to downtown Orangeville. But this year’s Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival promises to be the grandest yet, echoing New Orleans on Fat Tuesday. Indeed, the Ghost Town Blues Band, hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, will lead a New Orleans-style march through the downtown to kick off a Saturday packed with tunes.

The festival started modestly – on one Saturday in June 2003. On that day, a free concert in Alexandra Park behind Orangeville’s town hall was headlined by Jack de Keyzer, the British-born Canadian blues guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, who had just won his first Juno Award. Seven other artists included Orangeville-based saxophonist Ryan Grist, fresh out of college, with his quartet. He has played at every Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival since. In fact, check out Jim Menken’s wood carving at the corner of Alexandra Park and Second Street. That’s Ryan on the sax. The other is festival founder and musician Larry Kurtz playing his harmonica.