Thank you Blues fans for a wonderful 2016 Mid-Winter Blues Festival!

We had great turnouts at all seven nights of the festival, culminating with the sold out finale at Casino Regina.

Watch for next year’s 23rd annual festival, occurring February 25 – March 4, 2017

See you at the festival!


the 50/50 prize from Fri Feb 26 has not been claimed. The winning ticket number is 0833575. Must have ticket to claim the prize. 

Thursday February 25, 2016 – 7:30pm (Doors open at 7:00)
The Exchange, Tickets $25, All Ages Show, Rush Seating

Cécile Doo-Kingué


An exceptional stage presence, guitarist / singer-songwriter Cécile Doo-Kingué blends blues, afro-roots and soul to create a unique sound. Born and raised in New York City, first generation from Cameroon, she has lived in the USA, France, and is now an adopted Montrealer. Considered one of Canada’s most electrifying and versatile guitarists, she has shared a stage and/or recorded with Montreal Jubilation Choir, Blind Boys of Alabama, Bernard Purdie, Michael Jerome Brown, Tricia Foster, Scarlett Jane, United Steel Workers of Montreal, amongst many, and has opened for many icons including Canned Heat, Eric Andersen, Angélique Kidjo, Youssou N’Dour and Manu Dibango. In 2008, Cecile and Gern f. of USWM started Chick Pickin’ Mondays, a night promoting women singer-songwriters.

In June 2010, Cecile released her debut solo album Freedom Calling to critical acclaim. In 2011, the CBC commissions Doo-Kingué to write Home, a song on immigration. Gris, released in 2012, also praised by press and music lovers alike, earned Cécile the 2013 Fondation SPACQ Edith Butler Award for Excellence in Franocphone Songwriting.

Doo-Kingué has toured both albums extensively across Canada and Europe, firing up clubs, listening rooms and festivals alike with her face-melting playing, rich vocals and sharp and genuine banter with her audience. In February 2015, Doo-Kingué released her third solo album Anybody Listening Pt. 1: Monologues, the first chapter of a trilogy exploring blues, roots and life in their myriad of aspects (Monologues solo acoustic, Dialogues full band, Communion live).

Powerful, sexy and raw, Cécile Doo-Kingué’s lyrics and sound, live or recorded, make for an enthralling and intimate communion and The Regina Blues Association is thrilled to have her at this year’s Mid-Winter Blues Festival.

Mill Street Blues Band


Formed in 1999, Mill Street Blues has played clubs, casinos and festivals across the prairies. They bring diverse styles together to form their own unique interpretations of the blues form.

Lead singer Ray Eberle is a blues purist, with a lyrical style to his guitar playing and singing. Lead guitarist Dale Sauer has a rock background and plays the blues with a decidedly jazz flavor. Otis Young, as house pianist at the Georgia Blues Hotel, has filled in with such blues icons as Carey Bell, Jimmy Copeland, Kathi McDonald, and in years past with Guitar Shorty at the Casino Regina as part of the Mid-Winter Blues Festival.

Rounding out the band is Pat Kelly, a groove specialist on drums, and Deepen Pandya, formerly the bassist with Serena Ryder, who adds a funk feel to the proceedings. Arnie Davis blows sax and holds court with his timely solos.

Jeff Mertick Band

Mertick 1

The Jeff Mertick Band is an original funk/blues group comprised of Jeff Mertick (lead vocals/guitar),  Pat Andrews (vocals/bass), Ramiro (Pito) Sepulveda (drums),  Dan Flagel (keys) and Khanida Taylor (vocals).   Having been compared to such greats as Sly and the Family Stone, Tower of Power and The Black Crowes,  Jeff and the band’s music guarantees their audiences will be movin’ and groovin’.  Complimentary vocal harmonies intertwine with Jeff’s tasteful guitar playing and vocal abilities to give this group that “retro soul” sound.  On the heels of their second album entitled “Steppin’ Stone,”   The Jeff Mertick Band have had the privilege of opening up for many talented artists and playing many of the venues around Regina.  Be sure to catch them the next time they play,  It is a guarenteed great time!

Stillhouse Poets

“I was surprised to hear so much sound coming from just two guys”. – some guy in the audience

The Stillhouse Poets are a blues n’ roots duo from Regina. Their influences are drawn deep from the musical well waters of the Mississippi Delta and the Appalachian mountains. Brent Nielsen (guitar, harmonica, loop pedal, harmony vocal) and Kirk Hextall (lead vocal, light percussion) are the men behind the music. They co-write the bulk of their material and have two albums under their collective belt. Both records are given a stripped down treatment. There’s no lipstick or rouge, just foot stompin’ grit. It’s backwoods harmony with a kick drum heart. This will be the 3rd appearance at the festival for The Stillhouse Poets – we’re glad they’re back.

“You guys have a really cool sound”. – their waitress

Friday February 26, 2016 – 7:30pm (Doors open at 7:00)
Performing Arts Center, Tickets $40, All Ages Show, Rush Seating

Colin Linden

colin linden

Born in Toronto, Canada, and raised in White Plains, New York, Colin Linden returned to Canada in 1970.  He was already a guitar prodigy at 11 years old, and when most kids that age are playing sports, Colin was meeting and being mentored by one of his musical heroes, the great bluesman Howlin’ Wolf, which helped set the youngster on a course to pursue the sounds of his dreams. That encounter helped fuel a career that has featured his work on literally hundreds of albums. At last count, the total of recordings on which he has played approaches 400, while over 100 albums bear the “Produced by Colin Linden” credit.

As a testament to his roots music acumen and early devotion to the idiom, Colin – at the tender age of 15 and accompanied by fellow Canadian musician Doc MacLean – embarked on a summer blues odyssey of the USA,   working down from the border and hitting Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta,  Memphis and other points south in the Mississippi Delta. Along the way, they met up with and performed on numerous occasions with a “who’s-who” of blues legends, including Sippie Wallace, Buddy Moss, Little Brother Montgomery, Sunnyland Slim, Tampa Red, Henry Townsend, Robert Wilkins, Sleepy John Estes, Son House and Sam Chatmon.

Colin Linden is a genuine renaissance man of roots music. He’s a singer and songwriter of great skill, an in-demand and prolific record producer (Bruce Cockburn, Tom Wilson, AND Regina’s own Colin James), a sideman to the stars as guitarist for the likes of Bruce Cockburn, Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, and, for the past decade-plus, a member of the highly successful trio, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings.

Colin’s songs have been covered by The Band, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Keb’ Mo’, and Colin James, and his well-stocked trophy case includes eight Juno Awards (the Canadian Grammy), multiple Maple Blues Awards, and a Toronto Arts Award. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for the star-studded A Tribute to Howlin’ Wolf  CD, and was nominated in 2002 for Lucinda Williams’ track on the Timeless (Hank Williams tribute) album, which won for Country Album of The Year. That same year his involvement in the O Brother, Where Art Thou project was rewarded, as “O Brother” won for Best Album and the Down From The Mountain soundtrack won for Folk Album of The Year (Linden and Chris Thomas King had a song credited together on that one). Linden has a well-deserved reputation as a slide guitar virtuoso of true originality and his riveting slide work can be heard both on albums from numerous artists as well as on his own sizeable solo catalogue.

His previous studio album, From the Water, was viewed as an homage of sorts to his long-time musical collaborator and closest friend, legendary keyboardist Richard Bell, who passed away in 2007. Bell’s accomplishments included being a member of Janis Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band. Linden and Bell played on over 100 albums together (more than 40 of them Linden productions), including records by The Band, Bruce Cockburn, Lucinda Williams, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and Colin James. The new record Rich in Love marks a return to the same label that released Colin’s first studio album, The Immortals (1986) and also represents his first new studio recording since From The Water (2009). “I felt like so much has changed since my last studio album,” says Linden. “It was as if I was writing from a different place for these songs. At some point I even began to suffer from insomnia, and several of the songs were composed literally in the middle of the night, such as ‘Date with the Stars’.”

This will be Colin’s first time performing at the Mid-Winter Blues Festival and promises to be a night of amazing blues.

Artist website:  www.colinlinden.com

Rita Chiarelli

Rita Chiarelli

The Regina Blues Association is proud to have Rita Chiarelli, Canada’s most highly acclaimed female roots and blues artist, return to the Mid-Winter Blues Festival in 2016.

With a JUNO award and 4 subsequent JUNO nominations, Rita is known across Canada as the “Goddess of the Blues”. Chiarelli is a gifted songwriter and an entertaining performer,  but it’s her soaring 3 octave voice that sets her apart from her peers, inspires awe and often tears in her audiences, and causes critics to gush, ” a voice so blue it could make the angels weep”… “a voice that can growl at her demons or soar with the angels, a gift for lyric, an ear for melody and the heart to combine them”.

The one thing Chiarelli is not; is predictable.  Over the past number of years she has released Cuore, a recording of traditional Italian folk songs, which won the World Music category at the prestigious Canadian Folk Music Awards; Uptown Goes Downtown Tonight, a highly acclaimed collaboration with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra; and Music From the Big House, a documentary movie filmed in Louisiana, at Angola prison, which premiered in New York and L.A.  Her CD Sweet Paradise, heralds a return to Chiarelli’s blues roots, and is her first album of all original tunes since 2001’s JUNO nominated Breakfast at Midnight.

As if creating beautiful music wasn’t enough, Rita has entered the film world starring in the critically acclaimed Music From The Big House. She also developed the original concept for the film, one that takes Rita on a pilgrimage to the birthplace of the blues, Louisiana State Maximum Security Penitentiary a.k.a Angola Prison. She never imagined that her love of the blues would lead her to a historic jailhouse performance with inmates serving life sentences.

Over the past decade Rita Chiarelli has won every major Canadian blues award, including multiple Maple Blues awards,   CBCs Great Canadian Blues Award, Toronto Independent Music Awards, Hamilton Music Awards, Manitoba Blues Society and the Hamilton Blues Society’s Lifetime Achievement Awards. Most recently Rita was awarded the prestigious Maple Blues ‘Blues With A Feeling Award’ for Lifetime Achievement.

Showing no signs of slowing down, Chiarelli continues to tour incessantly in North America and Europe and intends to spend more time performing in the U.S. over the next few years.

Having her make a stop in Regina during her hectic schedule promises to be another great show for the 2016 Mid-Winter Blues Festival fans.

Rita’s most recent release is the critically praised Music From The Big House Soundtrack, recorded LIVE with the musical inmates of Angola Prison as seen in her award winning documentary of the same name and featuring Rita’s gut wrenching performance of These Four Walls.

Artist website: www.ritachiarelli.com

Eddie & The House Rockers

Regina good-time blues band Eddie & The House Rockers make a return visit to the Mid-Winter Blues Festival. Having last performed during the 2013 Festival, this 5 piece band is a high energy blues, rock-a-billy  and dance band.

The House Rockers play a number of original songs and great interpretations of tunes by the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf, Jonny Lang, Tommy Castro and Eric Clapton to name just a few.

The band is currently comprised of: Todd Bowes – Lead Vocals, “Dr.” Don Fuller – Lead Guitar & Harp, Otis Young – Keyboards, Kevin Gerry – Bass Guitar and Barry Sproule – Drums and Percussion.

The band members’ musical tastes vary and it shows; from deep, soulful, bluesy slide guitar and harp to rock-a-billy influenced keyboard to hard driving rhythm and country influenced guitar licks. They manage to blend their styles to create a great evening of Boogie and Blues. We are happy to have them returning to the Mid-Winter Blues Festival and think you’ll enjoy them!

Saturday February 27, 2016 – 7:30pm  (Doors open at 7:00)
Casino Regina Show Lounge, Tickets $50/$55, 19+, Ticketed Seating

David Wilcox


David Wilcox is a brilliant song writer, a great singer, and one of the hottest guitar players in the world. He first made his name as a wild, live performer and then as a first-rate recording artist whose work, from “Out Of The Woods” (1980) to his brand new release, “Boy In The Boat” (2007).

After more than twenty years in the business – including extensive touring, 5 gold & platinum albums, numerous awards, and winning fans everywhere – it’s no stretch to say that David Wilcox deserves icon status. His life in music is the stuff of legend. Wilcox discovered Elvis at age six, started picking guitar a couple of years later, and played his first gig – to a room full of ex-convicts at age fourteen. A devoted acoustic fan, young David bought a second-hand Telecaster from a pawn shop on a whim and didn’t even know how to turn on the amp when he auditioned for Ian & Sylvia. He got the gig anyway, and spent two and a half years in their band, The Great Speckled Bird, backing the likes of Anne Murray, Charlie Rich and Carl Perkins on Ian’s weekly international TV show. David recalled one particular memory of that time:  “We were headlining at Carnegie Hall and the only instruments were two acoustic guitars, played by Ian and me. I had an exceptional night and Ian was kind enough to introduce me twice. Both times the audience response was really warm and appreciative. Although I knew that I hadn’t ‘arrived’ or whatever, it was a wonderful affirmation that I could have a career in music.”

Wilcox led his first big-time band, David Wilcox and the Teddy Bears, in the mid ’70s, hitting local stages as a flashy character with an oversized waxed moustache, a baggy suit and a flower in his lapel. For the first time he began performing original material. Over the years he’s written an extremely broad variety of songs like “Old Cats” and “Don’t Let The Devil Take The Beat From The Lord”.

In the early ’80s, Wilcox shed the moustache and suit, truly hitting his stride. Wherever he played he left a trail of club and concert goers who’d danced, drank, clapped, stomped and shouted their way to a great time. With consistent radio play for his songs, audiences were calling out for “Hot, Hot, Papa”, “Riverboat Fantasy” and other classic favorites.

Wilcox became a huge favorite on the college circuit playing more than 300 dates a year and earning awards from COCA (the Canadian Organization of Campus Activities) for Entertainer Of The Year (1985) and Contemporary Music Recording Attraction (1987). He was later honored with membership in their Hall Of Fame. At the time he was the highest-grossing campus performer in Canada. David had also signed a recording contract with EMI Music Canada.

During these years, Wilcox led a rather excessive lifestyle. On his first three albums, Out Of The Woods (1980), My Eyes Keep Me In Trouble (1983), Bad Reputation (1984) he sang – from experience – about sex (“The Grind”) drugs (“Riverboat Fantasy”) and rock and roll (“That Hypnotizin’ Boogie”) and even documented the gossip fostered by such pursuits (“Bad Apple” and “Bad Reputation”). In the late ’80s Wilcox continued to develop as a recording artist, moving from his gritty, live-in-the- studio roots to more produced synthesizer-and-drum-program modern rock. The albums from this era, Breakfast At The Circus (1987), The Natural Edge (1989) are stylish and textured but the songs shine through as well as ever. The witty double- entendres of “Layin’ Pipe”, the sad requiem of “The Song He Never Wrote”, sounding almost like Wilcox’s tribute to his excessive side; and the sweet anthemic pop of “Lay Down In Your Arms” are key examples.

“Thirteen Songs”, released in 1996, featured acoustic-based music played with a small band. Wilcox embraced everything from sax-and-organ jazz (“Rainy Night Saloon”) to country storytelling (“Shotgun City”) to deep blues (“Three Past Midnight”). Not to mention “God Is On A Bender” which may be one of the best songs Wilcox has ever done, period.

The year 2000 found David recording “Rhythm Of Love”, a CD which reflects the compelling hard-rocking sound of his first electric bands. “I need a Vice” is a clever, sharply-observed confession, “High Water Rising” a beautiful soul ballad with some subtle, irresistible guitar work, and “Rhythm Of Love” is a percolating shuffle.

In 2003 Stony Plain Records of Edmonton issued a great compilation CD titled “Rockin’ The Boogie: Best Of Blues And Boogie.”  Apart from featuring some new tracks, such as the aptly titled “Can’t Stop Rockin'” the CD focused on Wilcox’s blues- and-boogie side. The title track is used by Canada’s Olympic gold-medal winning skaters, Sale and Pelletier for one of their most popular routines.

With the release of David’s new CD, “Boy In The Boat” his music has come full circle. It’s a daring mix of diverse roots influences coupled with his remarkable style. The result? Something not only original but steeped in the raw funky tradition his fans have come to know and love. Tough but soulful; cool but passionate – the music keeps growing without losing its fiery edge. “I wanted to make a record as freely as possible. My first albums were done with no ‘adult supervision’; no concerns with current trends or ‘marketing’, just a group of people making music for the pure joy of it. With this one, we took that approach. ” Wilcox goes on to recall: “There is an afternoon I’ll always remember when I was a child – me and my little red Motorola radio. In the basement, if they played a record by a male singer I pretended it was me. If the singer was a woman I pretended I was the guitar player. Little did I know that I’d be blessed with a career in music!  Years later that memory sustains me, keeping my pure love of music alive. If I ever start feeling jaded or pressured to conform, that kid lost in the music brings me back to myself.”

Monkey Junk


The Regina Blues Association is proud to have Ottawa based MonkeyJunk return to the stage in 2016 with their blend of swamp-rock roots and blues. Always a crowd pleaser, the band is touring in support of their new MOON TURN RED CD that was just released at the end of September, to great revues.

In just 8 short years since forming, MonkeyJunk have won a collective 20 Maple Blues Awards, two Canadian Independent Music Awards, a Blues Music Award in the U.S.A  (formerly the W.C. Handy Awards), and have been nominated twice for a JUNO Award here in Canada, taking home the coveted hardware in 2012.

Straight out of the gate, MonkeyJunk quickly became one of the most popular new bands on the scene, performing at festivals and packed venues across the country, amassing a large audience of devoted fans, affectionately called “MonkeyJunkies”.  MonkeyJunk are not a fluke, one-off collective of “ordinary Joes” who decided to start a band. These are three musicians who individually had established careers prior to forming MonkeyJunk. Steve Marriner, the trio’s vocalist, baritone guitarist, harmonica and organ player, was well known as the ‘go-to’ guy as a producer, sideman and session player. He’s also toured the world performing alongside Harry Manx, including a stop with Manx in Regina. Steve is also the consummate musical networker and stage guest, having been invited to join many artists in concert such as Randy Bachman, Colin James and Big Sugar.

At the age of nineteen, lead guitarist Tony D performed for three nights in Buddy Guy’s band and in 1982, he opened for Stevie Ray Vaughn. These events helped propel him into a long-standing career with his own popular project, The Tony D Band. He has also toured with some of this country’s greatest musicians, including the late Dutch Mason.

Before MonkeyJunk, drummer and percussionist Matt Sobb was a very busy session drummer around Ottawa. Over the last 24 years Matt  has backed up many regional, national and international artists live on stage, on tour and in studio, such as Kim Wilson (Fabulous Thunderbirds), Jeff Healey,  Tom Wilson (Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, Junkhouse, Lee Harvey Osmond), The Tony D Band,  and his brother Marty Sobb’s band The Mobb, among many others.

As one of Canada’s heaviest bands since Big Sugar, their music is passionate and edgy with unfettered delivery. MonkeyJunk’s fourth release for Stony Plain Records, Moon Turn Red, is sure to further cement the band’s popularity. “With each record we make, we feel like we’re pushing more boundaries. Moon Turn Red is no different. I really think some of the songs on this album are some of the best we’ve written”, says Marriner. “We explored grooves we’ve never hit on before, and experimented with some new sounds while paying particular attention to the melodic passages of the songs.” With ten scorching tracks varying from straight-up rockers like “Light it Up”, “You”, “Hot Hot Papa”, “Live Another Day”, “Lucky One”, and “Travelin’ Light”, the reggae-tinged “Love Attack”, the funky “Show Me Yours”, to the soulful, goose bump inducing love songs “Learn How to Love” and “Meet Me at Midnight”.

Moon Turn Red also features a guest appearance from legendary Canadian guitarist David Wilcox, who plays guitar and sings on MonkeyJunk’s cover of his classic “Hot Hot Papa”.

Also, the track was produced by Colin Cripps of Blue Rodeo. “It was a real thrill for all of us to work with David Wilcox as he is someone we have been a fan of for many years – one of our musical heroes”, says Sobb. “We listened to his music growing up, have covered his songs in previous bands and still listen to his records in our van while on tour.” He was very generous with his time and talents and it was truly an honour that he was so gracious and genuinely invested in making the track sound great with us. It was great to have Colin on board to produce that song too – his musical sensibility and keen ears really harnessed the best out of all of us!” Another coup for the band was having Gordie Johnson (of Big Sugar and Grady fame) lend his talents to the recording. As Marriner states, “He possesses an acute sensibility for melody and groove, a champion of ‘riff-rock’, while his role on our record is more supportive than feature, he brought all sorts of vibe to the session that I believe we effectively captured on tape that day.”  Tony D adds, “Gordie and I both come out of the blues. We’ve known each other for over twenty five years. It was serendipitous that he happened to be touring in the vicinity of the studio in Almonte, ON and after all these years we finally got a chance to work together!”

Moon Turn Red is not only an outstanding addition to an already impressive body of work and a turning point for MonkeyJunk, it is an example of musical camaraderie and brotherhood; the trio of long-time friends and colleagues just seem to click in a way that is at once natural and otherworldly. Their passion, conviction and dedication to their music is evident with every lick, every beat and every lyric. MonkeyJunk is a reminder to listeners that musicianship, ability and strong song writing always triumph.

“The name MonkeyJunk comes from Son House, who once said ‘I’m talking about the blues, I ain’t talking ’bout no monkeyjunk.’ But I am going to talk about MonkeyJunk – they are brilliant and have produced one of the best albums I have heard in a long time…; Ten tracks that prove that this Canadian band is here to stay. And as Son House would have said if he had seen these boys: ‘I’m talking ’bout the blues, I’m talking about MonkeyJunk!’” – Bob Boncey, Blues Matters (UK)

Regina blues lovers have always been big fans of MonkeyJunk and we know that their appearance at the 2016 Mid-Winter Blues Festival is sure to please.  If you’ve never been to a MonkeyJunk show prepare yourself for a great time and to walk away as a new MonkeJunkie. 

Artist website:   www.monkeyjunkband.com

Apollo Cruz

Apollo Cruz is a blues trio based in Saskatoon, SK.  Combining a mutual love of the blues with elements of rock, funk, country, reggae and jazz, Apollo Cruz always delivers a high energy performance with groove, swagger, and skill.

Since first coming together in 2012, Apollo Cruz has performed at the Saskatoon Blues Festival, the 2015 Regina Mid-Winter Blues Festival, the Saskatoon Jazz Festival, the Ness Creek Music Festival, the Arts on the Fly Music Festival in Horsefly, BC, among countless other performances. The band’s debut album “…Your Blues, John” was released on July 9th, 2015.

The band is comprised of Nick Longpre – (Guitar & Lead Vocals), Aiden Currie – (Drums & Backing Vocals), and Brandon Ziola – (Bass, Backing Vocals & Keyboards).  The Regina Mid-Winter Blues Festival introduced Apollo Cruz to Regina blues fans during the 2015 festival, and have brought them back for another appearance just one year later. We told you so!



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