By Brooke Gazer
Since its premiere in 2012, the Blues on the Beach concerts have grown so popular that some Huatulco visitors arrange their vacation to coincide with one or both annual events. Mark two Saturdays – January 18 and February 22 – on your 2020 calendar because you won’t want to miss either of these two fun-filled extravaganzas. The concerts will be held at The Sea Soul Beach Club in the Chahue area of Bahías de Huatulco. The lineup for January includes Guy Bélanger on harmonica, blues/soul singer Annika Chambers, and Paul Deslauriers, one of Canada’s elite guitarists.
Quebecer harmonica artist and composer Guy Bélanger, influenced by blues greats Bob Walsh and Dutch Mason of Canada, as well as Muddy Waters, Koko Taylor, James Cotton, and Big Mama Thornton, has been touring Europe and North America for over four decades. He started releasing his own albums in 2008; his sixth and latest, Eldorado, came out in October 2019. Bélanger has received two Canada-wide Maple Blues Awards, and 14 of Quebec’s Lys Blues Awards.
American Annika Chambers grew up singing gospel music in church, but her exceptional gift became apparent through her military service. An invitation to sing the national anthem led to a tour of Kosovo and Iraq, boosting morale for her fellow soldiers. After two tours of duty, Annika returned to Houston where she formed her own band and launched her professional career. In 2015 Chambers and the band (The Houston All-Stars) were nominated for the Best New Artist Album at the Blues Music Awards; in 2019, she won the BMA’s Soul Blues Female Artist award.
Paul DesLauriers fronts one of Canada’s greatest blues bands. He was awarded Entertainer of the Year and Electric Act of the Year in both 2016 and 2017 at the Maple Blues Awards. In 2016 his band took 2nd place at the 32nd International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee, renowned as the world’s largest gathering of blues artists. The group’s latest album, Bounce, premiered in June 2019.
It is worth noting that, with the exception of the entertainers, everyone involved in making Blues on the Beach so successful is a volunteer, and 100% of the proceeds go to a worthy nonprofit organization. Un Nuevo Amanecer provides therapy and education for nearly a hundred local children who suffer from a broad spectrum of disabilities. Their mandate is to help these kids develop to their maximum potential and live as independently possible. Most of these kids come from poor families and without UNA, they would have little or no hope of becoming self-sufficient. The government provides very little support, but the people in Huatulco have demonstrated overwhelming generosity in keeping this commendable cause afloat.
Tickets are $400 pesos and can be purchased at Resort Real Estate Services, Giordana’s Trattoria, Café Juanita, Restaurant Viena and Aventura Mundo.