Blue Floyd brings a naturally bluesy palette to Pink Floyd

blue floyd


By Steve Newton

Most aging rock fans have a little Pink Floyd story to tell. Mine revolves around the last time I saw the British prog-rock kings—sans Roger Waters, sadly—playing at B.C. Place in 1993 or so. We were sitting in one of the media booths, and an inebriated Ryan O’Neal was shouting things like “ ‘Magic Bus’, motherfuckers!” at the top of his lungs. My sister came this close to smoking a doobie with Farrah Fawcett in the women’s can!

It was an amazing show, to say the least.

It may be a while before Pink Floyd makes it back to Van, but in the meantime hard-core fans can check out the next-best thing in Blue Floyd, a project put together by American promoter Michael Gaiman, who also devised Jazz Is Dead (jazz meets the Grateful Dead). The current members of Blue Floyd are keyboardist Johnny Neel (ex–Allman Brothers), drummer Matt Abts (ex–Gov’t Mule), bassist Berry Oakley Jr. (ex-Bloodline), and former Black Crowes guitarist Marc Ford, who explains the band’s purpose over the phone from his home in Fullerton, California.

“This was another of Michael’s ideas,” he says, “to have sorta blues-veined players do Pink Floyd stuff. It actually works out pretty naturally, since Floyd originally were kinda bluesy.”

Ford was a huge Pink Floyd fan as a kid (“The Wall is the perfect coming-of-age album, you know”), and his fondness for the guitar stylings of David Gilmour led him on a musical career that included a six-year stint with the Black Crowes. That job included playing “most of the lead guitar” on the double-platinum 1992 album, The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion, but Ford found the role of a hired guitar gun tiresome after a while.

“That band is run by the brothers [Chris and Rich Robinson], and it’s their songs, and so… I went in there knowing that that was the situation, and at the time I was willing to do that, because I was tired of running my own band [Burning Tree]. But after years and years of just being a guitar player, it sort of got to be a drag.”

Since leaving the Crowes’ nest in ’97, Ford has been writing his own songs, and he has a solo CD coming out this year with appearances by the likes of Ben Harper, former Jayhawk Gary Louris, and Craig Ross from the Lenny Kravitz Band. He’s hoping to tour behind that disc when his Floydian adventures are done.

“This is just for fun,” he says of Blue Floyd, which plays Richard’s on Richards on February 8 and Champagne’s in Surrey on February 10. “It’s kind of everyone’s favourite side project, you know, just an excuse to play with some great friends that are great musicians.”

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