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Harrison Kennedy is also a former Brock student who’s eager to return to where he once studied chemistry and English.

Kennedy’s change of direction into the blues has garnered him a whole new generation of fans as well as praise from peers and a few awards to boot. He’s been thrice nominated for a JUNO Award and last year finished second at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, where he competed in the solo acoustic division against performers from around the world.

Author Don Wilcock, who covered the IBC, was very impressed with Kennedy. In his words: "Last year my fellow judge and Rolling Stone Editor David Fricke leaned over and whispered in my ear, ‘What do you think so far?’ My knee- jerk reaction was to sell the event for The Blues Foundation. Then I thought, you can’t jive talk the man who’s documented the inner thoughts of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and every rock icon of the last forty years. ‘I don’t hear any game- changers,’ I admitted to him. This year I did. Harrison Kennedy is a game-changer."

Kennedy told Centre Stage, "The IBC was very interesting and I’ve had the busiest summer this year." His increased exposure led to a tour in Italy and an upcoming tour of France in Nov..

He also credits his appearance at the Ontario Council of Folks Festivals (OCFF) in Ottawa with opening more doors for him. "It has provided me with much more recognition across Canada," he said.

His profile was further elevated when his last CD, One Dog Barking, received the only review of a Canadian artist by Downbeat Magazine. And veteran artist Eric Bibb will soon be recording a Kennedy composition.

Kennedy’s fourth CD, Shame the Devil, is due out around the time of the Brock performance.

Kennedy noted that this will not be the first time he’s appeared with John Mayall. In fact, he left Brock to work full-time with the R&B band Chairman of the Board out of Motown, which had a million- selling hit with "Give me Just a Little More Time" in 1970.

Harrison Kennedy's music has the soulfulness of a gospel singer overtaken by the fire of the blues with the sensibilitis of roots music.

Written by Bob Liddycoat in association with Thorold's CANAL BANK SHUFFLE BLUES FESTIVAL. Oct. 20-22

"John (Mayall) was very popular and we both appeared on Top of the Pops in England back then," he noted. More recently, Kennedy opened for Mayall at a Gravenhurst club, and is excited about their appearance at Brock.

"I played Brock in the 1960s with my R&B band but it will be great, fantastic, to open for Mayall and I’m really looking forward to going back to my old school," he said. "It will be a double pleasure."

Kennedy promises to make the show at Brock a very special one.

"I’m going to present a 45-minute show that causes amnesia – the audience will be able to think about nothing but music."

Kennedy competed at the IBC as a representative of Thorold’s annual Canal Bank Shuffle Blues Festival. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the festival and will feature top blues artists from across North America. The Shuffle, and Brock’s Centre for the Arts are both members of the Crossborder Blues group.

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