Bluesfest returns in North Bay

Typically it’s an outdoor event, but this year due to weather, Bluesfest headed indoors.

But after a year hiatus due to COVID-19, Capitol Centre officials said the weather didn’t matter -- they’re just glad the festival could happen.

“We’re really happy we were able to do this, this year. Last year being so dark for everybody, we couldn’t do it,” said Capitol Centre marketing director Caroline Parnell-Barry.

“The artists were really excited to be coming to do a performance, and I think that’s the bigger thing. As much as it’s how they make their living and they’re really excited to get back to that in any capacity, the idea of performing and interacting with an audience is a really big deal for them.”

With plenty of health and safety protocols in place, guests were able to attend the indoor venue to take in some live music.

“Masks are required whenever you’re walking around,” said Parnell-Barry. "Also, hand sanitizing stations, and we are doing passive screening. We also have traffic flow coordination going on so there’s not people crossing paths."

Headlining Sunday evening is Juno-award-winning artist Crystal Shawanda. She told CTV News she’s been anticipating Bluesfest, after more than a year with limited shows.

“It feels amazing, we are so excited to be doing what we love, and that’s play music,” Shawanda said.

“It was a hard year being away from it because playing music isn’t just our job, but it’s a part of who we are.”

She’s from Manitoulin Island, a little more than three hours away from North Bay, and said she looks forward to playing for a northern crowd.

“It gives me a chance to get home, I really love it," Shawanda said. "Just the countryside up here is so beautiful -- it is its own thing. We’re always happy to play around here.”