Darby Mills at TD Kitchener Blues Festival 2019

In the heart of downtown Kitchener, I found myself amidst the vibrant spirit of the TD Kitchener Blues Festival, a music extravaganza that took over downtown Kitchener for four days of bluesy bliss. The OLG Clocktower Stage played host to the legendary Darby Mills, former powerhouse vocalist of the Headpins, who graced the festival with her undeniable talent on a sunny and beautiful Thursday evening.

The stage setup was simple, featuring Chris Murray Driver on drums (affectionately called “the Machine” by Darby), flanked by Doug Rasmussen on keys. Darby, a beacon of energy, stood at the forefront, flanked by Randy Gabel on guitar and David Hopia on bass, creating a formidable musical ensemble that promised an unforgettable performance.

Taking the stage at 5 pm, Darby Mills, surrounded by her talented band members, launched into a setlist that spanned her iconic Headpins days, her solo ventures, and some well-chosen covers. The crowd was treated to classics like “Don’t It Make Ya Feel,” “Turn It Loud,” and a surprising twist with covers like “Brother Louie” and “Piece Of My Heart.” Darby showcased her vocal prowess, proving she’s still the queen of the scream after an impressive 41 years in the music business.

Darby’s connection with the audience was evident as she shared anecdotes about her experiences, including working with Nazareth over the years. Her revelation that “Hot Water” was a new song added an extra layer of excitement for the fans. The crowd erupted in cheers as Darby humorously showcased her newfound expertise in playing the cowbell, revealing her dedication to perfecting the art since leaving the Headpins. Her cowbell performance during “Hair of the Dog” and “Hot Water” was nothing short of impressive—she truly plays a mean cowbell!

As the final notes reverberated through the crowd, Kitchener was left in awe of Darby Mills. The audience erupted into a standing ovation, and cheers echoed through the sea of people that stretched as far as the eye could see. It was, without a doubt, a killer show, making it an awesome day in Kitchener.

Post-performance, Darby’s graciousness continued as she engaged in a lengthy autograph session, with a line extending all the way to the city hall doors. Fans eagerly purchased T-shirts and had their CDs signed, a testament to the enduring impact of Darby Mills.

The fan reactions echoed the sentiments of the entire crowd—Darby Mills hadn’t lost a beat. Her powerhouse vocals, magnetic stage presence, and genuine connection with the audience left an indelible mark on the TD Kitchener Blues Festival.

In the grand scheme of the festival, TD Kitchener Blues Festival proved to be a triumphant takeover of downtown Kitchener. With an estimated 150,000 attendees and an economic boost of around four million dollars to the city, the festival solidified its status as one of Canada’s largest blues extravaganzas. Darby Mills’ performance was a shining star in a constellation of over fifty acts, solidifying the festival’s reputation as one of Canada’s premier blues events.

As the sun set on Kitchener and the music continued to echo through the city streets, the TD Kitchener Blues Festival once again succeeded in uniting blues enthusiasts, celebrating the genre’s rich heritage, and leaving an everlasting melody in the hearts of all who attended.

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Darby Mills Setlist TD Kitchener Blues Festival 2019

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