2017 Trois-Rivières en Blues Festival
"August 25th, 26th and 27th "

The 2017 Trois-Rivières en Blues Festival continues its ascent as one to the top Blues Festivals in North America. See Photos.. click here This year was the ninth edition of the alternatively known Three Rivers Blues Fest, easier to pronounce for non-French speaking folks like me. This marks the third-year that the three-year-old Cogeco Trois-Rivières Amphitheater facility was utilized. The inspiring amphitheater is stunning and is held up by eight columns, a thin and elegant roof takes advantage of the natural beauty of the site that also frames the grand St. Lawrence River. There is seating for thirty-five hundred orchestra seats. Where the roof slopes aloft beyond lawn area an additional fifty-five hundred outdoor patrons are accommodated. It is truly a unique structure and a site to behold. Geographically: Trois-Rivières is located in the province of Québec, typically less than ninety minutes northeast of Montreal, and approximately seventy-five minutes from world-renowned Québec City. All of the downtown location festival performances are free, though there is an admission charge for the amphitheater, which is also where the national/international touring artists perform. Like previous years this festival offers a mix of Canadian talent and USA bands. This exceptional three-day event sizzles at the amphitheater as well as at the intimate downtown street locations for three consecutive

Day One: Featured the forever youthful Mavis Staples who continues to dazzle with her performances and her outstanding vocal prowess covering songs from her early recordings with her dads (Pops Staples) legendary Staples Singers, and right on up to Mavis’ most recent albums. The concluding act that first evening was the fiery blues-rock guitarist Walter Trout, who looked and played marvelously. Walter Trout has quite the story to tell having survived cancer and looked the picture of vitality and great health. Trout is also proud and played tunes from his just released Provogue label recording, “We’re All in This Together” that showcases guest performances by well-known artists, mostly guitarists Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Edgar Winter, Joe Bonamassa, Mike Zito and John Nemeth who were previous featured performers at this festival, along with Sonny Landreth, Robben Ford, Warren Haynes, Eric Gales, Joe Louis Walker, Charlie Musselwhite, and Trout’s former employer John Mayall. Walter Trout’s son performed on-stage with his dad and on the new album: Jon Trout. Trout was also wise to point out that the fabled Canadian guitarist Randy Bachman also appeared on his new recording and got a rise from the crowd when he covered a studio track from the new album that highlighted Bachman; “Got Nothin’ Left.” It was quite the night and there were two more days ahead.

Day Two: Allowed added time to check-out the free downtown street stage locations where I enjoyed afternoon sets by the attractive and tasteful lap steel, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Heather Gillis, the up and coming Jamiah Rogers, and Magic Slims’ son Shawn Holt and his Teardrops. The evening performances at the amphitheater offered the bass playing singer Danielle Nicole’s band (Daniele was formerly with Trampled Under Foot.) After Nicole’s very successful stint with Trampled Under Foot she has since stepped into the spotlight and is now front and center leading her own fine band. The weekend’s amphitheater finale came from the still very young (especially for a Blues musician) now a veteran: Jonny Lang. Jonny performed many of his classics as well as new tunes from his recently released and Amazon rated Best Seller “Signs” album. Lang’s known for his passionate vocals and his powerful guitar playing, that night was no exception as the crowd appreciated Lang’s exhilarating set.

Day Three: Always makes for a great midday-into-night event(s) with bands performing for free on the streets of Trois-Rivières. Plenty of fine bands, too. Some performers were new to me, others were longtime veterans of the Blues scene. Speaking of bands I wasn’t familiar with; I enjoyed several who performed in the solo-duo competition where the winner is sent to Memphis to compete in the worldwide solo-duo competition at the Blues Foundation in Tennessee. I also thoroughly enjoyed seeing the seasoned singer/guitarist Joanna Connor. I hadn’t heard or seen much of Connor in recent years, but she nearly melted the asphalt pavement of Trois-Rivières, especially when Heather Gillis sat in, and throughout with Jamiah Rogers as her bass player who also doubled on guitar. I was moved during Connor’s encore when she said; this one’s for Gregg (Allman) and delivered a potent Allman Brothers favorite, “One Way Out.” Closing out this year’s festivities was well-recorded and tested traveler Chris Duarte. The Texas born Duarte is known for his high energy guitar playing and explosive sets. Such was the case that very evening in Trois-Rivières as Duarte unearthed many of his fan favorite classics from his back-discography as well as tunes from his most recent 2014 “Lucky 13,” and his 2016 “The Fan Club” albums.

So there you have it. My second province of Québec, Canadian musical adventure of 2017; the Tremblant Blues Fest was the other. Both festivals offer high-quality and unforgettable concerts. A lot of this has to do with the Canadian promoter Brian Slack who previously won a Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the Blues Foundation for the aforementioned Tremblant Blues Fest. Now I’m figuring its due-time for a second Keeping the Blues Alive Award, this time for the Trois-Rivières en Blues Fest

Until next year many others, myself included, will be looking forward to what Trois-Rivières concocts for its 2018 Blues Fest. For the readers of this column; seriously consider visiting Three Rivers, Quebec next August; it’s a great area, and reliably offers this wonderful Blues Festival. Nonetheless: Keep checking: www.3renblues.com for updates to next year’s BluesFest, it will also be their tenth anniversary edition.

For 17 years Bob Putignano has been pivotal with his Sounds of Blue radio show. Hear new Homegrown Sounds of Blue internet radio shows: http://soundsofblue.com/radioshowsmp3.htm Previously a contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for the Yonkers Tribune www.YonkersTribune.com & www.MakingAScene.org Bob was also the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) for his achievements in radio broadcasting. Putignano can be contacted at: BobP@SoundsofBlue.com