Curaçao BlueSeas Festival 2023 line-up announced

Friday 7 and Saturday 8 April, Pietermaai will finally be all about the blues again during the fifth edition of the Curaçao BlueSeas Festival. After a forced pause due to covid-19, a selection of international blues talent can be seen again on the various stages of the free street festival in the historic district. The festival opens on Thursday evening, 6 April, with a special concert of Harlem Lake at Kura Hulanda.

Take contemporary blues rock, mix it with a heavy dose of Americana and add some  raw 70s soul. That’s how Dutch band Harlem Lake got their sound. Fusing together influences of Joe Bonamassa, Dire Straits, Little Feat and BB King, they released their debut album A Fool’s Paradise Vol. 1 in 2021. And after winning the Dutch version in 2019, they also took home first prize at the prestigious European Blues Challenge in Sweden last year. But don’t think these musicians are now resting on their laurels: their new live album Volition Live will see the light of day this month, due to be followed by a new studio album, Fool’s Paradise Vol. 2, which they are currently recording.

Like many artists before and after her, Annika Chambers began singing in church. But it wasn’t until her two tours of duty in the US Army that she realized the gift she had. Returning to the US, she formed her own band, Annika Chambers and The House Rules Band. Renowned Canadian guitarist-singer Paul DesLauriers had been gathering numerous awards and chart positions with his blues-rock music when he met Annika in 2018. Their love affair blossomed the year after, in which they also got married, and since then they have been playing their music together.

Blues singer and guitarist SaRon Crenshaw learned to play his instrument at the tender age of ten. A great blues lover, Crenshaw has been inspired by great musicians such as Albert King, Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Buddy Guy. Performing ‘intensely’ at blues venues and festivals around the North American east coast and building a large following there. Crenshaw released his album Drivin’ in 2017.

As a teenager, John Németh was into hip hop and rock until a friend introduced him to blues. Nowadays he is a respected blues harmonicist, singer and songwriter with ten albums to his name. His latest, Stronger Than Strong, was released in 2020. Blending retro and modern blues and soul into his own music, Németh has received many Blues Music Awards nominations, and took home the award for Blues Instrumentalist – Vocals in 2022.

Growing up in a family of blues musicians, pianist and singer Victor Wainwright formed his own bands from a young age. After enjoying time with previous bands Southern Hospitality and Victor Wainwright & the WildRoots, he formed The Train in 2017. The band released their self-titled debut album the year after, which received a Grammy Award nomination. Its successor Memphis Loud was released in 2020.

One of eleven children, Ron Artis developed his multi-instrumental prowess playing in the Artis Family Band, quickly taking to the piano and guitar as his main instruments. Growing up in Hawaii, he grabbed the attention of other musicians there as well as on the mainland and was invited to play with the likes of Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac), Jack Jones, Booker T Jones, and G Love. He formed his own band The Truth and has released two albums to date: 2018’s Soul Street and 2019’s Love Is Love.  

American singer and songwriter Terrie Odabi performs original blues straight from the soul. Or, as one US journalist put it: “Terrie Odabi is easily the most dynamic blues and soul woman to have emerged in the Bay Area since Etta James came out of San Francisco in the fifties.” Her 2016 album, My Blue Soul, was received well and her voice and stage presence are praised by many. 

Houston, Texas native Diunna Greenleaf has a background steeped in gospel music. Influenced by the likes of Koko Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke and her own parents, gospel musicians Ben & Mary Ella Greenleaf, the singer has been leading her band Blue Mercy for many years. She’s recorded four albums, the latest being 2022’s I Ain’t Playin’.

Soul blues singer Sugaray Rayford hails from Texas and started singing as well as playing the drums in church. Growing up with gospel and soul, he moved towards contemporary music at age 12 and turned to blues afterwards. He released his first solo album in 2010 and now has seven to his name. For 2019’s Someone Save Me he received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album, and won prizes at the Blues Music Awards in 2019 as well as 2020. His latest album, In Too Deep, was released last year. 

The full line-up is as follows:

Thursday 6 April, opening in Kura Hulanda: Harlem Lake

Friday 7 April: Annika Chambers & Paul DesLauriers , SaRon Crenshaw Band, John Németh , Victor Wainwright & The Train

Saturday 8 April: Ron Artis II & The Truth, Terrie Odab, Diunna Greenleaf, Sugaray Rayford Band 

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