Southside Shuffle, Chuck Jackson and Stax is Back

Southside Shuffle 2016.jpg

Submitted by Cindy Shibley Koury
Photo Credits: Cindy Shibley Koury
Photo at right: Southside Shuffle 2016

The weekend after Labour Day, for eighteen years now, Port Credit has come alive with Blues, Jazz and Roots music at The Tim Horton's Southside Shuffle and this Blues Mama has attended every year. It's my local festival, my home festival. It's easily my favourite weekend of the year and experiencing the evolution of this festival, from its inaugural event in the ballpark at the corner of Hurontario and Port Streets, where Chuck Jackson gathered a group of blues bands to play on the back of a flat bed, to the major four day event with 4 stages in Memorial Park, Street Shuffle, Beggars Banquet, Blues and Roots Jamstage and more, has been a pleasure. I have been fortunate to have seen International Blues greats like Mavis Staples, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Johnny Winter, Big Bill Morganfield, Elvin Bishop and Canned Heat just to name a few. However, more importantly, is the highlighting of great, sometimes Legendary, Canadian talent at Southside. Jeff Healey, David Clayton Thomas, David Wilcox, Lighthouse, Jack de Keyzer and more have all played at the Main Stage.

This year the festival line-up was strong with Canadian Talent. With 2 "new" stages, "The Enersource Fresh Baked Blues Stage" which featured up and coming Blues artists from the Toronto Blues Society compilation CD "Fresh Baked Blues" (http://torontobluessociety.com/store) and "The Investors Group First Nation Stage" showcasing some First Nation Artists, festival goers were given the opportunity to experience some stellar homegrown talent. I was delighted to see folks taking in the groove of Irene Torres and The Sugar Devils, Fraser Melvin Band, The MacKenzie Blues Band and the ever so powerful Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar.  Also of note was Toronto Blues Society Talent Search 2016 winner 16 year old Spencer MacKenzie and Mark "Bird" Stafford's Junior Jam showing us that Blues is alive and well with loads of promise from the next generation of artists!

The ticketed, "Sab Memorial Heath and Sherwood" and "Mississippi/DAWG FM" stages offered up a mix of Canadian and U.S. acts. Oh, where do I start? I just love cruising from stage to stage! Friday night Montreal's Cecile Doo-Kingue captivated the crowd with her effortless guitar playing and deep lyrics. She indeed reeled in some new followers! Up next was The Last Waltz-Music of the Band. Lance Anderson has assembled an uber talented cast of artists for this production-catch it if you can!

R-L  John Finley, Gorge Olliver, Jay Douglas, Cheryl Lescom, Lance Anderson (Musical Director)R-L John Finley, George Olliver, Jay Douglas, Cheryl Lescom, Lance Anderson (Musical Director)Saturday, September 10, 2016 was packed full at the park. Starting at 12 noon until 10pm the Blues was played out over The Credit River ending with Tom Lavin and The Legendary Powder Blues Band on the Sab Memorial Stage and Soulsville-The Music of STAX on the Mississippi/DAWG FM Stage. Soulsville...where do I start? Hit after hit from Stax Records, the home of Southern and Memphis soul music featuring all star Canadian vocals from John Finley, Jay Douglas, George Olliver, Chuck Jackson, Cheryl Lescom and Matt Weidinger. Amazing!

Kim PollardOn Sunday, September 11, 2016, I was on a mission. I was not going to miss a minute of the Kim Pollard Band. I first saw Kim in Kingston Ontario 5 or 6 years ago and every chance I can I will go see her. Unassuming, she takes the stage and from the first note out of her mouth you know she is singing from her heart. So soulful, so real. She had me in tears. After her set we spoke. I thanked her for sharing her gift. She thanked me for being there then said, "I didn't come here to entertain you, I came here to touch you." And she did. After gathering myself together I enjoyed bouncing from stage to stage eventually landing at 2X Juno Award winning FATHEAD's set. Always right on, super tight professionals. One of Canada's favourite Blues bands.

The Southside Shuffle always wraps up on Sunday with The Legendary Downchild Blues Band and for many this is what they come to the festival for. The park fills up for Downchild's show, and why not? Almost 45 years together they are indeed Legendary. Canada's Premier Blues Band. Mr. Downchild, Donnie Walsh was in fine form. It wasn't long before Chuck Jackson, Donnie and the boys had the crowd up on their feet. That's what it is folks, jump-up blues. They never disappoint!

There's so much music to take in at the Southside Shuffle that you just can't possibly do it all. The Street Shuffle on Saturday afternoon has Lakeshore Road closed so you can stroll down the street with bands playing all along the way. The local bars and eateries carry the music on into the night. R-L Pat Carey (Sax), Chuck Jackson, Gary Kendall (Bass), Donnie WalshR-L Pat Carey (Sax), Chuck Jackson, Gary Kendall (Bass), Donnie WalshThe Port Credit Legion hosts the Beggars Banquet on Thursday night and bands downstairs Friday and Saturday nights. Upstairs at the Legion, the Blues and Roots Jamstage starts at 10:30 pm Friday and Saturday nights and is always a great time with most of the artists dropping in to jam. It's up close and personal and oh so much fun going into the wee hours!

I spoke with Chuck Jackson, Founder and Artistic Director of Tim Horton's Southside Shuffle, The Port Credit Blues and BBQ Festival, about this year's festival and what the future holds. Chuck said, "I just want to thank everyone for coming out and supporting us. We had a very successful Shuffle this year. We have a dedicated group of staff, volunteers and sponsors that make this happen." Chuck also told me that next year, for Canada's 150th Birthday, the line up will be ALL Canadian!

Chuck Jackson would also like to invite everyone out to a fundraising concert for next year's edition of the festival, on November 4th, 2016 at The Lakeshore Convention Center, Soulsville - The Music of STAX.

For more info visit:  http://www.southsideshuffle.ca/index.html