This article appeared in the Manitoba Blues Society newsletter in the Fall of 2004! Visit the Manitoba Blues Society website by clicking here!
Fargo Blues Festival by MBS correspondent Gord Enns
Manitoba Blues Society
What would get an arguably sane individual out of a warm bed... at 4am... on a day off? What could get an individual, too lazy to search for another sock of the same color to heat up yesterday’s coffee for the morning jolt and drive for 4 1/2 hours... to a foreign country... in the dark...smiling all the way? Da Blues! Lotsa Da Blues! Besta Da Blues! The destination was the 9th annual Fargo Blues Festival, held at Newman
Outdoor Field, Aug.20 & 21.
As you pass through the gate, you’re handed a program, you scan the grounds, spot the stage and scout out the patch of grass to claim as yours for the day. As you get your bearings, you notice the variety of t-shirts in the throng..from all over...overwhelmingly with blues-based themes. The people around you come in every shape, size, colour and description, but all have something in common. We’re all blues lovers and no matter how much you may dislike crowds, there’s something comforting about being among so
many kindred spirits.
I’ll admit it. I don’t get out much.Headliner acts like John Mayall and Lonnie Brooks got me to say, “I cannot miss this!” Seeing the likes of Coco Montoya, Jimmy Thackery and Walter Trout on the same bill made the event irresistible!... But yes folks, there was more! Little Charlie and the Nightcats, Kelly Richey, Big George Jackson and the list goes on and on...all knocked me out! It’s a weekend of surprises. Just to make sure that no one is left unimpressed, Coco Montoya, in the thick of his set, calls Jimmy Thackery up and they jam!!! You’ve heard it before but... yes... you should have been there! Onstage, they enthrall the crowd. Offstage, they’re all surprisingly approachable. Mingling with the deities is a treat!
If you still feel the need for a few more tunes, there’s a bar downtown. “The Northern” sparks up when the festival winds down. The gig is casual and the crowd is elbow to elbow. Friday night, Big George is playing and Phil Estrin, from Little Charlie and the Nightcats steps in, blowing harp like the show that afternoon was just a warm-up. Night two, the crowd is just as thick and Kelly Richey tears up the stage. Lonnie Brooks (cancelled at the fest due to weather) shows along with Coco Montoya for a surprise appearance.
Of all the weekends of the summer, the organizers of the Fargo Blues Festival managed to pick one of the few that didn’t suck, weather wise.Their skill at picking talent, paired with their skill at picking the best weather weekend of the summer makes them my best pick for what to do next summer! Fargo Blues Festival! I’m not going to miss it! See you there!