Northeast Ohio’s premier free blues festival, Canton Blues Fest, will take place on two stages over two days. It’s all happening on Market Square in downtown Canton on Friday, June 8th and Saturday, June 9th from Noon until 10:30PM. This event is FREE and open to the public! There will be food and beverage vendors, and activities throughout the music-filled two days.
TORONZO CANNON AND TAB BENOIT TO HEADLINE CANTON BLUES FEST
Opening acts Selwyn Birchwood and John Primer will take the stage at 6:30PM on Friday & Saturday respectively. The jam-packed lineup features 18 unique blues acts on two stages, with live music running daily from Noon until 10:30PM.
FRIDAY HEADLINER -- TORONZO CANNON
Since the 2016 release of his Alligator Records debut, The Chicago Way, contemporary blues guitarist/vocalist/songwriter (and Chicago Transit Authority bus driver) Toronzo Cannon has burst onto the international stage as one of Chicago’s – and the world’s – most acclaimed next-generation bluesmen. He’s earned his fame through the overwhelming response to his album, the sheer force of his music, his original songs, and his live charisma. Since the CD’s release, he’s played major cities all over the U.S., Canada and Europe, delivering one hard-rocking performance after another.
Cannon’s unofficial launch from local hero to national star took place on June 13, 2015 at the world-renowned Chicago Blues Festival, where he performed as a festival headliner for the massive crowd. After announcing that he had just signed with Alligator Records, he delivered a riveting set, instantly earning tens of thousands of new fans.
In addition to his devoted fans, Chicago media helped launch Cannon toward blues stardom. Powerhouse television station WGN won a local Emmy Award for their six-minute feature story on the hometown bluesman. Public Television’s WTTW interviewed Cannon on multiple occasions, and local CBS, FOX and ABC affiliates all featured him and his band. The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Magazine ran in-depth stories on Toronzo. With all of the positive local coverage, national and international media soon came calling. CNN filmed Cannon leading a tour of Chicago blues clubs and then broadcast the piece around the world. England’s MOJO magazine declared The Chicago Way the #1 Best Blues Album Of 2016, as did the readers of Living Bluesmagazine in their annual poll. The album and Cannon were also nominated for four Blues Music Awards (the Grammy of the blues) in 2017. And the world champion Chicago Cubs invited Cannon to throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the September 13, 2017 game.
FRIDAY OPENER -- SELWYN BIRCHWOOD
With his fiery guitar and lap steel playing, his trailblazing, instantly memorable songs and gritty, unvarnished vocals, Selwyn Birchwood is among the most extraordinary young stars in the blues. His deep familiarity with blues tradition allows him to bust the genre wide open, adding new sounds, colors and textures, all delivered with a revival tent preacher’s fervor and a natural storyteller’s charisma. Since the 2014 release of his Alligator Records debut, Don’t Call No Ambulance, Birchwood’s meteoric rise from playing small Florida clubs to headlining international festival stages is nothing short of phenomenal, as he continues to set the contemporary blues world on fire. The album received the Blues Music Award and Living Blues Critics’ Award for Best Debut Album Of 2014, and he won the 2015 Blues Blast Rising Star Award. Selwyn and his band have crisscrossed the U.S. and Europe repeatedly, delivering unforgettable live performances. With his new album, Pick Your Poison, Birchwood, along with his band—saxophonist Regi Oliver, bassist Huff Wright and drummer Courtney “Big Love” Girlie—takes a major step forward, crafting visionary blues for a new generation of forward-looking fans.
SATURDAY HEADLINER -- TAB BENOIT
Tab Benoit is a Cajun man who’s definitely got the blues. Born November 17, 1967, he grew up in Houma, Louisiana. A guitar player since his teenage years, he hung out at the Blues Box, a ramshackle music club and cultural center in nearby Baton Rouge run by guitarist Tabby Thomas. Playing guitar alongside Thomas, Raful Neal, Henry Gray and other high-profile regulars at the club, Benoit learned the blues first-hand from a faculty of living blues legends.
The nightly impromptu gigs were enough to inspire Benoit to assemble his own band – a stripped down bass-and-drums unit propelled by his solid guitar skills and leathery, Cajun-spiced vocal attack. He took his show on the road in the early ‘90s and hasn’t stopped since.
In 2007, Benoit won the dual awards of B.B. King Entertainer of the Year and Best Contemporary Male Performer at the Blues Music Awards (formerly the W.C. Handy Awards) in Memphis.
Medicine, Benoit’s latest release on Telarc, successfully joins two gifted guitarists/songwriters in a session that proves greater than the sum of its very talented parts. Set for April 2011, the 11-track recording features seven new Benoit originals co-written with ace songwriter Anders Osborne. Engineered by David Z, Medicine spotlights the work of keyboardist Ivan Neville, drummer Brady Blade and bassist Corey Duplechin. Fiddler/singer Michael Doucet of BeauSoleil makes a special appearance on three tracks.
An environmental activist as well as a stellar blues musician, Benoit has made the preservation of the endangered delta wetlands his personal crusade. In 2010, Benoit received the Governor’s Award for Conservationist of the Year for 2009 from the Louisiana Wildlife Federation.
SATURDAY OPENER -- JOHN PRIMER & THE REAL DEAL BLUES BAND
John Primer has undisputedly helped build the sound and style of Chicago blues as we know it today. The echos of tradition bellowing from the birthplaces he played such as: Maxwell Street, Theresa's, Checkerboard and Rosa's Lounges, pulse from every chord in his fingers today. John Primer is a Chicago Blues Living Legend.
John's father died tragically in Mississippi when he was young. When his mother found work in Chicago, John soon followed, bringing the sounds and spirit of Mississippi with him in 1963. He then fell for the music of both the city's west and south sides. Fronting his first band, The Maintainers, he was asked to join and eventually lead the house band at the world famous Theresa’s Lounge in 1974. Over the next seven years, John would play with such blues originators as: Sammy Lawhorn, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Smokey Smothers, Lonnie Brooks and many others shaping the foundations of the Chicago blues to come .
Want to be VIP for the event? Purchase your VIP Passes, which include complimentary food and beverages in the evening (after 5PM) and incredible views of the stage all day. Two-day VIP passes are available for $80; one-day passes are $50.
For details about the event visit their website. Be the first to know details about the event and follow Canton Blues Fest on Facebook! As always, please call 330.458.2070 for additonal questions and information!