London News & Search
Bluesfest organizer Ron Schroeyens is caught between a rock and a blues place.
That’s because he and his team are trying to offer a lineup for this weekend’s event that is bluesy enough to satisfy hardcore fans of the genre, but also with enough rock acts to pay the bills.
“There’s room for everybody,” Schroeyens said. “We’re going to have a good crowd.”
He estimates between 3,000 and 4,000 people will show up at Harris Park for this year’s edition of the festival that celebrates the blues, yet also offers a broad enough range of artists to please Londoners who love straight-up rock acts, too.
So, for every Robert Cray, there’s a Burton Cummings. For every Anthony Gomes, there’s a Rick Derringer.
“This year is a great event. I think we’re going to break even,” he said, after losing money last year in Victoria Park with a program that was focused more on pure blues and looked more like Sunfest, with multiple stages. This year, there’s just one stage.
The action kicks off Friday afternoon with an appearance by Gomes, then continues until Sunday night, closing with an appearance by the Rock Pack, a supergroup made up of players from Asia, Foreigner, Journey and Toto. “This is going to cap off the summer,” he said.
And what is it about the blues that attracted Schroeyens — whose day job is working at the PA Shop — in the first place?
“I just think it’s the players. It’s the feel of the music. For me, it’s all about the players. The level of the players has always been strong,” he said.
He is realistic. His party won’t do the same numbers as some Forest City music festivals.
“It’s considerably smaller than Rock the Park,” he said.
That said, all 13 of last year’s food vendors are returning.
It also won’t be free, as Ribfest was. (It featured Canadian rocker Kim Mitchell, as well as the Tea Party.)
“Somehow things have to be paid for,” he said, adding feedback from the public runs the gamut. Some nasty texts deride Bluesfest for not having enough soul, while other messages are from fans who think it’s the best event of its kind in the province.
“You can’t win,” Schroeyens said.
And even though artists such as Cummings may not satisfy blues purists, they are able to offer hits from a broad catalogue. After seeing Cummings previously, the fact that the Guess Who vocalist has so many well-known tunes was driven home for Schroeyens.
“Everything’s a hit. There’s no filler,” he said. “He’s just so good.”
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IF YOU GO
What: London Bluesfest 2017
Where: Harris Park
When: Friday starting at 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday starting at 1:30 p.m.
Tickets: $49 for a day pass, $136 for a three-day pass; there also arev VIP and table packages
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4:30 p.m. Anthony Gomes
6 p.m. Rick Derringer
7:30 p.m. Blood Sweat and Tears
9:30 p.m. The Wallflowers
1:30 p.m. Patrick Fockler
4:30 p.m. Scott Holt
6 p.m. Molly Hatchet
7:30 p.m. Robert Cray Band
9:30 p.m. Burton Cummings Band
1:30 p.m. Wild T and the Spirit
3 p.m. Sons of Rhythm
4:30 p.m. Bill Durst
6 p.m. Bobnoxous
7:30 p.m. Pat Travers Band
9:30 p.m. Rock Pack
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