Proud Canadians can mark this Canada Day weekend with some happy blues as the Commercial Hotel hosts its sixth, biggest-yet block party. Fourteen acts will perform over three outdoor stages and three days.
It kicks off Friday evening when the club hosts King Muskafa, Sweet Vintage Rides and Retrofitz in its outdoor beer garden in the parking lot to the immediate east of the hotel between 5:30 p.m. and 2 a.m.
On Saturday, the affair expands to another stage in McIntyre Park with the added company of food trucks and vendors (think Fringe time with a blues component), running 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday, the crowds rule as another music mainstage and vendors take over Whyte Avenue between 103 and 104 streets. Starting with a pancake breakfast, it runs again from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Blues on Whyte indoor stage continues throughout much of the weekend as well.
Most of the acts will be familiar to regular patrons of the scene. Look for veteran Edmonton or Alberta bands like Boogie Patrol or Pete Turland, plus rising stars Charlie Jacobson and Sam Spades.
It’s not all blues. You can witness award-winning folksinger Rebecca Lappa, now leaning towards folk-pop, and a raw turn on country swing from Punch Drunk Cabaret. Add the mega-band collaboration inspired by the late Joe Cocker dubbed The Mad Dogs Experience, fronted by Boogie Patrol’s Rott’n Dan Shinnan.
It just wouldn’t be Canadian if they hadn’t invited a couple of neighbours from that big blues patch to the south to join in the party. Much-travelled New Orleans bluesman Troy Turner was a natural, as he’s been hanging in Edmonton in recent days.
If there’s a headliner to the whole event, it might be Los Angeles-based guitarist-singer Dennis Jones, back for his first visit since 2015, who starts his stay playing the regular Blues on Whyte indoor stage Wednesday through Friday night.
No word yet if Turner or Jones are learning any bluesy chord changes to O Canada.