Wakamow Valley gets cooler Feb. 28

Justin
Justin Crann
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Annual Shake Off the Winter Blues fundraiser approaching

Wakamow Valley will be home to a different kind of cool Feb. 28.

Whiteboy Slim is one of two bands performing for the Shake Off the Winter Blues fundraiser for Wakamow Valley Feb. 28. Pictured is frontman Maurice Richard Libby.

That's the date of the valley's annual Shake of the Winter Blues fundraiser — an annual event featuring a good meal and great blues music to raise funds for the organization's annual project.

This year, that project is a wheelchair-accessible washroom.

"It's our second-largest fundraiser of the year," said Crystal Froese, director of community relations and business development for the Wakamow Valley Authority (WVA). "Wakamow has a great group of supporters, and we usually expect (to sell out)."

This year, local blues musician Whiteboy Slim and Ottawa's Monkeyjunk, the latter fresh off of their five-award sweep at the Maple Blues Awards, will take the stage.

Whiteboy Slim's Maurice Richard Libby said the performance will be a "rare treat" for his band, who only play "one or two gigs a year" in the Friendly City.

"We don't play Moose Jaw that often," he said. "And we're also really stoked to be playing with Monkeyjunk."

Libby said his band plays "blues outside the box."

"We try to avoid being a cliché blues band. … We basically do Chicago blues, but we add a lot of influences, including some reggae, some ska, some R&B, some funk and some jazz," he said. "It's eclectic, but it always comes back — it's indisputably blues."

The performance also falls at a fortuitous time, Libby said, because it is being held a week after Whiteboy Slim drops its new CD.

"It wasn't actually planned that way," he noted. "It's just that was the way it happened. It was in the stars."

The audience, added Libby, can expect a lively show.

"It's pretty unusual that we don't have people up and dancing to a lot of the stuff we do. We've had really good responses just about everywhere we play," he said.

And the performance is, in turn, fuelled by the audience's energy.

"The more emotional feedback and energy we get from the audience, the more energy we end up putting into the show," said Libby. "It's an interactive genre. The blues genre is all about call-and-response, and people yelling out and interacting with the crowd. We're a traditional act in that respect: we're all about that.

"(But) we pride ourselves on being professional to the point that, if we happen to be booked someplace and nobody's there, we still give 110 per cent — to use a sports cliché — but it's way better if there's a bunch of screaming people in the front row," he added.

Tickets — which include a meal, the entertainment, and access to the event's live auction — are available for $60 per person. The fundraiser will be held at the Sportsman Centre, and doors open at 5:30 p.m. Only 200 tickets are available.

To purchase tickets or for more information, call the WVA at (306) 692-2717.

You can follow Justin Crann on Twitter or like him on Facebook.

 

Organizations: Wakamow Valley Authority, Sportsman Centre

Geographic location: Ottawa, Friendly, Moose Jaw Chicago

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