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Now in its ninth year, Waterfront Blues, “Metro Toronto’s only genuine blues festival,” is bringing the best in Canadian and international blues to the Beach. The free festival will take over Woodbine Park from Friday, May 31 to Sunday, June 2.

The main stage opens up Friday night at 7 p.m. with Jon Knight and Soulstack, a southern Ontario five piece featuring dual guitarists. The group mixes urban blues and Memphis soul. Chuck Jackson takes the stage at 9 p.m., with Chuck Jackson’s Big Bad Blues Band’s Tribute to Big Joe Turner. Canadian blues fans will recognize Jackson as Downchild Blues Band’s singer since 1990, but here he will be paying tribute to one of his major influences.

Chuck Jackson

Chuck Jackson

Saturday’s party gets started early at 1 p.m., with The 24th Street Wailers. The Canadian crew features a frontwoman split between vocals and drums, and has been earning rave reviews in the band’s short existence. At 3 p.m., Scott McCord and the Bonafide Truth take over. Memphis soul, jazz, funk and blues are played with a rock approach as McCord belts out the tunes over a seven-piece backing band. At 5 p.m., New York City’s Alexis P. Suter Band help Suter showcase her vocal talents. Toronto stalwarts Fathead will help get the party rockin’ as the sun sets, setting the stage for Saturday night headliner Eugene Hideaway Bridges. The son of blues guitarist Hideaway Slim, Bridges also claims family ties to Tina Turner. He’s played in countless blues, soul and gospel groups over the years, led by himself and others. His latest CD, Rock And A Hard Place, features blues, soul, jump, funk, gospel, rock and beach music, and his live show should prove to be a musical journey.

Sunday’s festivities get underway at 2 p.m., with Morgan Davis. Originally from Detroit, Davis has been playing the world for almost four decades. Paul Reddick brings his songwriting skills to the stage at 4 p.m., and the weekend closes with Deanna Bogart, a multi-instrumentalist who combines genres into something she calls “blusion.” Her high-energy show should provide an exciting end to the weekend.

The Waterfront Blues Festival is free. There will also be award-winning barbecue, vendors and the “Don’t Lose the Blues” contest, including a draw for albums and a Danelectro guitar. For details check out waterfrontblues.ca.

Patti Loach, Brad Hampton and Ellen Bodie

Patti Loach, Brad Hampton and Ellen Bodie

Patti Loach and Brad Hampton star in The Picture of Happiness, directed by Ellen Bodie, on Saturday, June 1.

The cabaret show tells the true story of a photograph Hampton found in his grandmother’s basement when he was 23 years old. The photo shows two soldiers sitting on a picnic blanket, taken just before the Second World War. When Hampton asked his grandmother who the man was sitting with his grandfather in the photo, he was informed that “we don’t talk about it. We never talk about it.”

The family secret and subsequent conversations with his mother inspired The Picture of Happiness, which Hampton connects between his life and that of his grandfather in 1943. Hampton, Bodie and Loach use song and storytelling to tell the story through a colourful cast of characters.

Hampton (bradhampton.ca) is a singer and actor who has been working as an actor for more than 20 years, first in Calgary and now in Toronto. Loach (pattiloach.com) is involved in jazz, theatre and classical music and studied at University of Toronto’s music program and the Royal Conservatory of Music. Bodie is a voice and acting coach, actor and director, originally from Calgary, where she met Hampton.

The Picture of Happiness is intended for small venues, and will take place in a home on Pine Crescent. Tickets are $35 or $30 for students, seniors and arts workers. For more info and links to ticket sales, visit thepictureofhappiness.com.

Linda McRae

Linda McRae
PHOTO: Mo McMorrow

Acoustic Harvest presents BC-based Linda McRae (lindamcrae.com) on Saturday, June 1 at St. Nicholas Anglican Church, 1512 Kingston Rd.

McRae played accordion and bass with Spirit of the West, but now performs on clawhammer banjo, acoustic guitar, accordion and “porchboard stompbox,” combining universal lyrical themes with old-time sounds. Her latest album, 2012’s Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts, was nominated for Contemporary Album of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.

Tickets for Linda McRae are $22, and doors open at 7:30 p.m. This show will wrap up the 16th season for Acoustic Harvest. For more information, visit acousticharvest.ca or search Acoustic Harvest on Facebook.

Relish Bar and Grill continues its quest to provide a haven for live music on the Danforth, a block east of Woodbine. Every Monday at 8 p.m. Bentroots offers up “swampy N'Awlins” blues, while on Wednesdays The BTBs play jazz-funk fusion. David Macmichael's power pop can be heard on Fridays at 9 p.m. Saturday is New Music Night.

Upcoming guests include High Winds playing jazzy originals at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, singer-songwriter Steven Rainken at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21 and the Babershop Quartet at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28.

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