KITCHENER -- Kitchener’s Blues Festival will return this summer, but like many events, the experience will be a little different.

Organizers are calling it “Crossroads 2021.” The festival will take place over two days, from August 6 to August8, and include 58 shows at eight different venues in downtown Kitchener.

Cheryl Lescom, a local blues artist, is set to play alongside the Tucson Choir Boys.

“I get a lot back from the live audience, and I’ve missed it terribly,” she says. “It’s been 18 months for all of us. Not a lot of fun and we need some fun back.”

Other musicians set to perform are 54-40 and The Trews.

While it may not look like the same event as previous years, festival president Rob Barkshire promises it won’t disappoint.

“It will be like going out to a restaurant or club, having a couple of drinks perhaps, a nice meal, enjoying some live music.”

The changes comes as Ontario moves into Step 3 of reopening on Friday, allowing venues to welcome back music lovers as long as they follow capacity limits.

“It’s our attempt to give back to the artists and help them in a trying time, and the venues that have suffered,” says Barkshire.

He hopes restrictions will continue to loosen over the next few weeks.

MORE: Lineup released for Kitchener Blues Festival

Other live music venues are also excited for Step 3.

At Lana’s Lounge in Waterloo, the owners are also looking forward to live shows returning to their two-tier restaurant.

“The bottom is dedicated to musicians, especially through COVID, so they’re kind of quarantined here all by themselves,” says co-owners Marissa Mansz and Shan Bricker.

Under the capacity limits, the venue can only seat a maximum of 10 people. With that amount, they say it’s almost impossible to make a profit and they want to support local musicians.

“If we don’t coordinate an effort to maintain the arts in the community, we are going to lose it.”

 The first live music show at Lana’s Lounge is on July 23, with more planned throughout the summer.