Deborah Coleman switched from bass to guitar after hearing Jimi Hendrix



By Steve Newton

Deborah Coleman is a captivating soloist in her own right, but on her latest CD, Livin’ on Love, she did fans of impassioned blues guitar a big favour by letting her buddy Jimmy Thackery get his licks in as well. Actually, she might not have been able to stop him

“He just happened to be in town when we were recording,” reports Coleman from a hotel in Bakersfield, California, “and he pretty much just told me, ‘I’m playin’ on your record, and I wanna do three songs.’ ”

Between the two of them, Coleman and Thackery do some serious wailing on those three tracks, which—along with another eight—were laid down by noted producer Jim Gaines, whose credits include Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, and Luther Allison. He also helmed Coleman’s previous CD, Soft Place to Fall.

“I met Jim when I was playing at a club down in Memphis,” she relates, “and he expressed an interest in producing me. It was great because he brought his years of experience in helping artists reach their creative goals. He’s pretty well known for getting cool guitar sounds, too!”

Born in Virginia and raised in a music-loving military family that lived in San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, and Bremerton, Washington, Coleman started out playing bass in rock bands when she was 15, then switched to guitar after hearing Jimi Hendrix. By the time she was in her early 20s Coleman was caught up in the British blues-rock invasion, but she realized her true blues calling after attending a free college concert in Virginia featuring Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and John Lee Hooker. So which of the three music legends most impressed the young blueswoman to be? “Oh, gol, I love John Lee!” she raves. “I’ve always loved John Lee Hooker, yeah.”

With Muddy, John Lee, and the Wolf having all departed for that old juke joint in the sky, it’s up to the likes of Deborah Coleman to keep the spirit of the blues alive for those of us still breathing. Last summer she won local concertgoers over with her solid showing at the first Burnaby Blues Festival. Coleman won’t be playing the blues fest this time around; instead you can check her out up close on Friday (July 5) within the cozy confines of the Yale.

Leave a Reply