Legendary Southern blues/rock guitarist Tinsley Ellis brings his scorching stage show to town for the Vancouver Island Blues Bash on Sept. 1. Photo by Flournoy Holmes

BLUES BASH: Help celebrate silver anniversary at Ship Point

Legendary guitarist Tinsley Ellis, Davina and the Vagabonds headline weekend shows

It’s been 25 years and the Vancouver Island Blues Bash is celebrating this Labour Day weekend.

From popular local acts to some veteran visiting artists, this annual festival staged by the Victoria Jazz Society features a little of something for every blues and R&B taste.

Tinsley Ellis, whose scorching guitar work has thrilled live audiences for more than 36 years, headlines the Saturday night ticketed show Sept. 1 (7:30 pm, $29) at the Ship Point outdoor stage. Ellis, touring in support of his newest album Winning Hand, is an iconic figure in the blues hotbed of the South and has shared stages with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, The Allman Brothers, Albert Collins and many others.

Rolling Stone Magazine has described his playing as, “Feral blues guitar … non-stop gigging has sharpened his six-string to a razor’s edge … he achieves pyrotechnics that rival Beck and Clapton.”

The Sunday night show at Ship Point (7:30 pm, $29) sees high-energy acoustic quintet Davina and the Vagabonds, led by smoky-voiced Davina Sowers, bring a New Orleans and Memphis flair to their performances. Sowers has been compared to Etta James, Amy Winehouse and Janis Joplin but many say her unique vocal style defies comparisons.

The VJS is offering a special discounted package price for the two concerts of $45, a deal only available through the Society office at 977 Alston St. in Vic West.

The freshly remodeled and rockin’ Rubber Boot Club on Store Street below Swans Brewpub hosts a pair of hot bands, starting with Brickhouse on Friday, Aug. 31 (9:30 pm, $15). Known for years as the Yale Pub’s house band in Vancouver, they blend classic and modern rock with ease and injecting the occasional funky original into their sets.

Another Vancouver-based act, Juno Award-nominated Adam Robert Thomas, has been a prolific writer and performer with his band since 2015, cranking out a funky feel-good vibe reminiscent of Ray Charles, Donny Hathaway, Al Green and Steely Dan. Thomas, who hits the stage Sept. 1 at 9:30 pm ($15 cover) is touring in support of this year’s self-titled debut album, which rose to #11 on the U.S. R&B charts.

Ticket are available through the Victoria Jazz Society (250-388-4423 or 977 Alston St., no service charges) and the Royal & McPherson Theatre Society box offices (250-386-6121, online at rmts.bc.ca).

Free performances by local bands go from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday through Monday at Ship Point. For a full lineup, visit jazzvictoria.ca/blues-bash.

– Monday Magazine staff

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