David ‘Boxcar’ Gates is one of several artists set to perform at Blues By The Sea this weekend.

Seaside blues returning

Music festival takes place Sunday at Semiahmoo Park

What better plan for a lazy, sun-drenched Sunday afternoon than gathering in a seaside park to enjoy a traditional salmon barbecue and hear some of the finest local and Lower Mainland musical talent wailing out the blue notes?

Blues By The Sea will present its third-annual White Rock Rhythm and Blues Festival, Sunday, Aug. 25, from noon onward at Semiahmoo Park’s Spirit Stage.

Presented as a collaboration of Semiahmoo First Nation, Phil Davey’s Q Sound and the White Rock Blues Society, the family-friendly, no-alcohol event will feature a solid line-up of heavy hitters, culminating in the irresistible beat of Vancouver funk-masters Brickhouse, featuring White Rock’s own Ed Johnson on drums.

Also in the line-up will be Johnson’s sister, dynamic singer-guitarist Ellie Johnson, powerhouse vocalist Kathy Frank and a procession of well-known local guitar greats, including Jason Buie, Arsen Shomakov, James Shepherd and Jim Black and Velvet Bulldozer.

And what would a blues program be without such stellar nicknamed artists as U.S.-based James ‘Buddy’ Rogers and Canada’s own David ‘Boxcar’ Gates?

After two successful years the event has gained both familiarity and traction, Davey said.

The secret to a successful event, he added, is to keep it simple.

“That’s one of the reasons I was persuaded to do this again,” he said. “And, really, given the setting and the wonderful music and the people, why wouldn’t I?

“The whole point of this is that the Semiahmoo First Nation is making this possible. It’s all about sociability, no drinking, no dog s—, no hooliganism, just people who  sit on the grass and enjoy themselves – and we’re lucky we’ve got such great musical talent around.

“Brickhouse is one of the best R & B bands anywhere. This year, I’ve asked Jason to do his best Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn material. There’s nobody better at Hendrix than Jason, and David ‘Boxcar’ Gates is really coming along.

“Jim Black’s Velvet Bulldozer is amazing and James Shepherd just had his other band at the Sea Festival. The support of Rod Dranfield and the White Rock Blues Society is phenomenal. It’s a great lineup, and everybody’s local – how could it be better?”

In addition to the fundraising salmon barbecue, the site will also include a variety of arts and crafts and food and drink vendors, he said.

“It’s a beautiful park with easy parking, $6 for all day instead of keep having to plug meters. People don’t even have to go anywhere near West Beach.”

And Davey said that while those seeking alcoholic refreshment can venture to nearby establishments, the no-drinking policy in the park will be strictly enforced.

“This is, again, something done with the full support of the Semiahmoo First Nation.

“They keep the park so nice and (councillor) Joanne Charles always takes the the opportunity to have a little talk, say hi to everybody and welcome them to the event.”

Davey said that while he has learned to expect that some people think nothing of crashing Blues By The Sea, he’s been gratified that the majority are prepared to pay the ticket price in return for an afternoon and evening of great entertainment.

“We will not deny anybody access to the park, but we can’t continue to a function like this without the support of the public,” he said.

Tickets are $20, with children 12 and under free (barbecue extra), and are available at Surfside Guitars, Tapestry Music and at www.surrey.ca/art

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