Veteran NABF attendees know that the Sunday opening set is often filled by a not-yet-that-well-known but excellent performer and this year is no exception. The first Canadian to win the International Blues Challenge in Memphis (2010), which quickly led to an opening act tour with Old Crow Medicine Show, Matt Anderson comes from a small town in the Canadian Maritime province of New Brunswick.

Anderson follows in the tradition of the best performing songwriters who sound like they really mean what they’re singing about when it comes to hard times and hard work. His father is a lifelong logger, but the family is very musical. By junior high, Anderson was in the school band, first on tuba and later on trumpet. He took up guitar at 14 and before long was playing classic rock and Top 40 covers in pub bands while he studied studio engineering.

Things changed dramatically, however, when he discovered the blues. Through Eric Clapton, Anderson got into B.B. King, which led him to the Chicago electric stuff and eventually back to the Mississippi Delta guys, he said, adding “What really hit me most about the blues was its total honesty.”

Anderson began to build his name on the Canadian circuit, his imposing voice and slashing slide guitar making a monolithic impression on audiences. He has put out more than a half dozen albums, the latest being “Coal Mining Blues,” and he is a frequent guest on Stuart McLean’s CBC radio show “The Vinyl Café,” aired in these parts on MPBN radio.