Dawn Tyler Watson, Sue Foley, Jim Byrnes among Calgary blues fest headliners

One day late, but duly noted.

On Friday — the afternoon after celebrating International Women’s Day — Cindy McLeod unveiled the lineup for this year’s Calgary International Blues Festival and, yes, it’s one ripe with a talented lady contingent.

Throughout the festival, which runs July 30 to Aug. 5 at various locations around Calgary with the Mainstage performances Thursday to Sunday at Shaw Millennium Park, fans will be treated to such top-end performers as Dawn Tyler Watson, Sue Foley, Duffy Bishop and Samantha Martin.

McLeod, the producer of the fest, calls it a “happy circumstance.”

“It wasn’t intended but it worked out that way — there’s several really strong female blues performers this year, which I’m happy about,” she says. “It doesn’t always work out that way, but it did this year.”

Actually, the entire festival is one that she and every local lover of the blues should be happy about, with the other headliners an impressive list of names and diverse styles. Some of the acts include: slide player Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials; Vancouver-based actor and artist Jim Byrnes; supergroup Southern Hospitality, which features lap steel player Damon Fowler, guitarist J.P. Soars and keyboardist Victor Wainwright; electric Bronx rocker Popa Chubby; and the legendary Chicago Blues Reunion.

“It’s a 50-year project that brings together a who’s who of Chicago blues,” McLeod says of the act, which includes Barry Goldberg, Nick “The Greek” Gravenites, Harvey “The Snake” Mandel and Corky Siegel. “It’s all the original members, so it’s kind of a groovy thing.”

There are also, McLeod notes, a wealth of younger, rising acts, such as Edmonton’s Boogie Patrol, and other familiar local and regional talent including our own Mike Watson and the 6L6s.

And McLeod is also hoping to introduce Calgary audiences to performers that maybe wouldn’t have been on their radar prior to the fest, including Portland’s Bishop, “a wonderful singer and actor,” and Texas bluesman Jonn del Toro Richardson, who’s “very understated as a human, but just a killer player.”

Other than the outdoor Mainstage element to the fest, all of the usual features will be back for the week this summer, including the Festival Kickoff and Volunteer Appreciation Bash on Monday, the Blues Guitar Workshop on the Tuesday, Blues At Noon and John Rutherford’s A Walk Through Blues History on the Wednesday, and, of course, the always popular Twilight Series.

“Everybody really seems to love that part of the festival — that intimate thing after the Mainstage closes every night,” McLeod says of the latter, which runs the Thursday to Sunday from 10 p.m. until late, with the evening’s headliners reconvening at the Kerby Centre for some after-hours fun. “That’s a pretty popular aspect of the festival.”

(Please note: An earlier version of this story listed Tito Jackson and B.B. King’s Band appearing at the festival. They are no longer part of it.)

The Calgary International Blues Festival runs July 30 to Aug. 5. The complete schedule is online at http://www.calgarybluesfest.com/, with tickets and festival passes available from the site as well as or in person at Heritage Posters and Music (1316 11 Ave. S.W.) and That Old Retro Store (1314A 9 Ave. S.E.).