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Toronto venue to host blues and cigar box fest

August 14, 2014
By MARK J. MILLER - Weekender co-editor ( , Weirton Daily Times

TORONTO - Rural, primitive blues meets punk defiance during the Handmade Music Extravaganza, set from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Driftwood Smokehouse and Marina, 1200 N. River Ave.

Channeling both the defiant punk spirit of bands such as the Sex Pistols with the rural, raw blues of Mississippi Delta bluesmen such as Charley Patton and Son House, the bands featured at the festival have been drawing bigger crowds every event. The rise in cigar box guitar bands playing a heady brew of cranked, primitive blues has been a revolt of sorts against the current state of pop music. Imagine Bob Dylan fused with a Led Zeppelinesque groove mixed with classic punk rock played on instruments with three and four strings, and a new generation is looking back for inspiration for something entirely new, according to organizers.

The event is a music showcase featuring artists that play cigar box guitars and other handmade instruments along with local art, barbecue, cigar box guitar lessons and beverages, according to Brian Saner, member of the band the Low-Fi Project from Wheeling, event co-organizer, cigar box guitar creator and contributor to Guitar World magazine.

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The Wheeling-based, cigar-box band the Lo-Fi Project will be one of the bands performing during the Handmade Music Extravaganza, set from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Driftwood Smokehouse and Marina, 1200 N. River Ave., Toronto.

"We also are partnering up with Team Mojo Foundation by drawing off a very special guitar, signed by some of the performers that evening," said Saner. "The winning ticket will be drawn at 8 p.m. during the extravaganza. All proceeds from the drawing will go to the Team Mojo Foundation and their free music lessons for underprivileged children."

Performers for the evening will include the Lo-Fi Project, Don's Barbershop Presents and Secret Devil Tuning, Jeff Powers and headliner Turchi.

"Turchi will be headlining this year's event and take the stage at 8 p.m.," said Saner. "The timing worked out perfectly, with Turchi returning from an Italian tour. The past two years Reed Turchi has been one of our headliners as a solo act. It's exciting to see the full band backing Reed."

"Turchi specializes in kudzu boogie, at the crossroads of American roots music, a blend between slide-guitar fuzz and rhythmic trances of the deep South, the remnants of a trainwreck between Mississippi Fred McDowell, Randy Newman, Jimi Hendrix and RL Burnside," reads the band's website. "The band's debut album 'Road Ends in Water,' released in March of 2012 on Devil Down Records, featuring guest appearances by Luther Dickinson - North Mississippi Allstars, Black Crowes - was compared to the early work of the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan in terms of songwriting, vocals, energy and spirit, as well as with the White Stripes, Drive-By Truckers and the Black Keys."

Saner said Powers, known as the "the King of Three Strings," also will be performing as a one-man-band.

"We are very lucky to add Jeff Powers to our lineup," He said. "Jeff is Cleveland's premier Cigar Box guitarist, and according to Rockwired Magazine 'Jeff Powers is one of the 25 guitarists you've gotta know.' His self-titled release is an engaging listen that will leave the listener amazed at the guitarist's musicality and virtuosity as well as his tremendous sense of songcraft."

Joining them are local artists the Lo-Fi Project, Don's Barbershop Presents and Secret Devil Tuning. There is a $2 cover charge with all proceeds going toward the bands.

For information, visit the Main Street Gallery in Toronto or go to

(Miller can be contacted at

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