Marc Bence/for metro edmonton
You can consider it quite a party when a few thousand of your friends show up.
For Cam Hayden and Carrol Dean, co-producer’s of Edmonton’s Labatt Blues Festival, it happened not once, but twice during the three-day event that ended yesterday.
“We’ve been a sell-out the last two days,” said Hayden about ticket sales. “It’s our largest amount of sales to date,” although he says the number of tickets made available to the public — 9,300 this year — won’t increase as the popularity of the festival demands.
“We want to make sure everyone enjoys themselves, which means keeping the venue intimate,” he said. “We try and just invite 3,000 of our closest friends,” added Dean.
The festival, in its ninth year, featured 13 of the top blues performers in the world, including the iconic Los Lobos, the five-man band built on the blues, rockabilly, jazz and Latin influences.
Past festivals have featured performers like Phillip Walker with the Texas Horns, the Downchild Blues Band and, in its first year, Buckwheat Zydeco, seminal performers of Creole dance music.
“We’ve been coming here every year and … it gets better and better,” said Marc Stilz of Cache Creek, B.C.
The 48-year-old teacher and his wife, Linda, take their vacations in mid-August every year and follow the “blues train” from the Roots and Blues Festival in Salmon Arm, B.C., to Edmonton. “It’s the best way to spend a holiday,” said Stilz. “Every year I hear a new band that blows my mind.”
That sharing of new music is one of the best things about the festival, said Dean.
“Sometimes the best part of the festival is bringing in new acts,” she said. “It’s about the joy of discovery.”