Quinton Blair and Doc Walker make history at Cuban concert
Canadian country music found a new stage at Cuba's first-ever Caribbean Goes Country festival, where local talents like Quinton Blair and Doc Walker did something never done before, play a country show in that nation. The festival was the brainchild of Canadian Dennis Woodworth, who's deeply involved in the Cuban community, and it blended Caribbean flair with country tunes. What made this festival special was its commitment to giving back. Attendees and performers each brought 10 lbs. of donations, with a primary focus on school supplies and medications, to support Cuban communities. Despite some setbacks like flight cancellations due to a blizzard, Canadians rallied, donating over 12,000 lbs. of goods. Doc Walker and other Canadian acts headlined the festival, delivering memorable performances despite challenges like language barriers and makeshift equipment. Dave Wasyliw of Doc Walker shared that they even used an electronic drum set reminiscent of a video game. "It was fantastic." Wasyliw shares, "We were approached about a year ago to do a couple of shows in Cuba and we instantly said yes. But we didn't realize that this was the first country show in the history of Cuba. So we did some shows at a couple of different resorts, and the response was fantastic. It's not like here, of course, you can't go rent some amplifiers and do a full show. We played through practice amps and for the second show, the drummer played on an electronic drum set. It was like the video game, Rock Band." For Quinton Blair, the highlight was being able to create memories with locals and tourists. "Because of that blizzard, there were three artists that were stranded on the East Coast who were supposed to come and be a part of the event." Blair explains, "We get there and it's me and Doc Walker, but people were there to be a part of a music festival. So I told the promoter. 'Work me like a rented mule. Just tell me where to play and I'll play and we'll make moments and connections and memories for the folks.' In the end, I played music for over 40 hours during the week and it was a bit tiring. I've never sung that many hours consistently, but part of creating those moments, a part of being a musician is playing whenever you can." Looking forward, Blair revealed plans to return next year, this time bringing his band to serve as a house band for other artists. Despite the exhaustion of playing over 40 hours during the week, he expressed eagerness to participate again, highlighting the festival's unique blend of music, camaraderie, and social consciousness. As tickets go on sale for next year's event, Canadian country music fans have a chance to experience the magic of Caribbean Goes Country firsthand. With headliners like the Road Hammers and Aaron Pritchett, coupled with the allure of Cuba's vibrant culture. Tim McGraw had scheduled some shows in that country in 2019 but they were cancelled before they ever took place.