Virtual blues mini series

January 4, 2021

Ten years and counting.

As in, the year 2020 was the 10th anniversary of the Sault Blues Society.

And with 2021 now into its infant stages, the Sault Blues Society has a special mini series planned that is slated to begin this week.

Without further ado, we have words of explanation from Sault Blues Society president Johnnie Tibbles.

“Our executive had discussed and was working with Rotary Sault Ste. Marie to present an all blues stage night as part of Rotaryfest 2020. We had also been in contact with four traveling bands that were routing through the Soo in 2020 to work out the possibility of performing for the fine blues fans of the Soo. Unfortunately, these acts were not possible due to the worldwide COVID pandemic,” Tibbles began.

“Now, we hope that you enjoy our virtual blues miniseries with the expectations of live performances to return to local stages in the future. We at the Sault Blues Society hope that you are all managing through this time of uncertainty and lack of live music. To help you with your music fix, we have during the past several months organized and recorded five local bands who performed live from the floor of Joe’s Garage.

“Multi camera recording was done by Christian Lemay from Shaw Spotlight with assistance from Adrian Vilaca of and sound engineers Ron Maclean and Don Bruni,” Tibbles noted.

The premier release will be this Thursday (January 7) at 8 p.m. on Shaw Spotlight Sault Ste. Marie, the Sault Blues Society’s YouTube channel and

Following that, there will be subsequent releases on four successive Thursdays — January 14, 21 and 28 and February 4 — all with 8 p.m. starts.

Repeats will also be broadcast on Shaw Spotlight Sault Ste. Marie on the Saturday at 9 p.m. following the original release.

Tibbles noted that the mini series is being made possible with funding from the city of Sault Ste. Marie’s cultural financial assistance grant,, Shaw Spotlight, Joe Della Savia, owner of Joe’s Garage, the Sault Blues Society and the 20 local Sault Ste. Marie musicians who are part of the project.

All songs were performed live from the floor of Joe’s Garage and all are original compositions by some of the Soo’s great local musicians, Tibbles noted.

Following are the bands, members, and release dates.

Blues Shop: Thursday January 7, 8 p.m.

Mike Yurich – guitar and vocals
Josh Norling – sax
Valerie Powley – vocals and percussion
Jeff Pinnett – drums
Warren Reville – bass
Eugene Gassi – keys

Big Wheel and the Spokes: Thursday January 14, 8 p.m

Jay Case – guitars and vocals
Frank Deresti – bass
Cliff Alloy – drums

Raymond Gassi and the Cosmic Blues Band will be a part of the mini series. (photo by Johnnie Tibbles)

Cosmic Blues Band: Thursday January 21, 8 p.m.

Raymond Gassi – guitar and vocals
Mike Yurich – guitar and keyboard
Pierre Vaillancourt – bass
Chris Johns – drums

Blues Harvest: Thursday January 28, 8 p.m.

Keith Conway – guitar
Jake Rendell – guitars and vocals
Josh Norling – sax/ewie
Michael DiSanto – bass
Ken Coulter – drums

Rusty McCarthy: Thursday February 4, 8 p.m.

Rusty McCarthy – guitar and vocals

Josh Norling – sax

Lindsay Pugh – bass

Chris Johns – drums

Maja Bannerman – vocals