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Bill (Billyboy) Lucas was the Chair of the Nanaimo Blues Society.  His passion for the blues began in the late 1960’s, when in his teens he saw blues greats Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and John Mayall.  In 2007 while Lucas was watching local Maple award-winning blues artist David Gogo perform a lightbulb appeared over Lucas’ head, causing him to ask, “Why not have a blues festival?’ Bill let the idea bubble for a year or so and asked a few questions around town (no one said no) and the Nanaimo Summertime Blues Festival was born.

The vision of the Nanaimo Blues Society is expressed clearly through its goals and objectives:

  • Share our love of the blues by producing a music festival in beautiful Nanaimo.
  • Showcase Nanaimo’s rich and diverse musical community.
  • Celebrate Nanaimo’s image as an event and cultural centre.
  • Stage a music festival that will attract tourists to downtown Nanaimo.
  • Foster mentorship among musicians.
  • Generate and stimulate local economy (Nanaimo Blues Society 2007)

Picking up the pieces.

In 2011 the Society managed to put on it’s first 3 day festival at Maffeo Sutton Park, moving the festivities from Dianna Krall Square.  This gave opportunity to have a gated venue that allowed patrons to enjoy the music of many different blues artists, various local artisans who set up shop and food vendors to feed the masses.  Plus the first ever beer garden at our festival.  It was a resounding success and planted the seed for future festivals.

Over the ensuing years the festival has continuously grown in audience attendance and gained an international status amongst blues lovers. The focus continues to have Nanaimo become the “Boutique Blues Festival of Choice”.

The Nanaimo Blues Society hosts a Blues Jam every Sunday at the Queens Hotel from 4:00 pm until 8:00 pm.  An opportunity for Vancouver Island Musicians to get together and interact with each other.  Learning new rifts, making new friends.  It’s all a great time.