Shortly after Blind Dog announced the band would put on a reunion show at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, member Bruce Hughes had a severe stroke.
But Hughes isn't going to let that get in the way of being with his band.
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"I've been sitting in the hospital most of the summer, just praying that I would be good enough to play with these guys again," said Hughes, who's based in the Fredericton area.
After a miraculous recovery, Hughes plans on playing a few songs at the end of the band's set on Friday.
'I just hope I don't shed a tear when I get onstage. It means a lot to me. I've been a part of this festival for a long time.' - Bruce Hughes
"I'm pretty excited about that, to be back with the boys," he said. "I can't let them have all the fun."
Hughes said the doctors believe he had multiple severe strokes, but they aren't sure how many. Hughes decided to try an experimental surgery that could have left him paralyzed from the eyes down or killed him.
But 24 hours later, he could wiggle his toes and fingers a bit, which came as a pleasant surprise to the doctors. Hughes asked if his reunion gig was out of the question.
"They said, 'No, that's an excellent goal to have, and you're young enough.'" Hughes recalled. "I like that part — 'You're young enough that you might be able to do it.'"
The first time he picked up a guitar, it was difficult but it felt good, he said.
"I was pleased a couple weeks ago I could hold a pick for five minutes without dropping it," said Hughes.
"I'm a rhythm player, and it's important for me to have my hands."
Making the return
Blind Dog started as Disorder at the Border in 1989, and the name was changed to Blind Dog in 1992. The band played across the Maritimes, along with multiple stints at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival.
The last time the band played the festival was in 1999, the same year Blind Dog stopped playing together regularly.
But Hughes is excited to be back on the festival stage. Besides playing at the festival with Blind Dog, he has also done stage managing and has MCed at the festival.
"I just hope I don't shed a tear when I get onstage," said Hughes.
"It means a lot to me. I've been a part of this festival for a long time."