Rory Gallagher’s stunning Blues should be his ticket to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

By Steve Newton Life is full of unanswered questions. Like, is there life after death? Are UFOs real? And why the hell isn't Rory Gallagher in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? I've been asking that last question for a few years now, via various blog posts, and the usual response from dedicated Gallagher … Continue reading Rory Gallagher’s stunning Blues should be his ticket to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Jim Byrnes on the Vancouver blues scene in ’85 and his idol Magic Sam

By Steve Newton On May 6, 1985, Vancouver blues legend Jim Byrnes was in the midst of a week-long stint at a nightclub in the West End. That's no big whoop as far as Vancouver music history goes, but considering how much Byrnes has contributed to the city's blues scene since then, I figured it … Continue reading Jim Byrnes on the Vancouver blues scene in ’85 and his idol Magic Sam

Delta bluesman Big Jack Jackson says you can’t hardly tell the rap kids nuttin’

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 24, 2003 By Steve Newton When the Straight contacts Big Jack Johnson—the veteran bluesman, not the youthful chart-topping surfer dude—at his home in Clarksdale, Mississippi, he’s just gotten back from Milan, Italy. To hear him tell it, the blues is definitely alive and well in Europe, and has … Continue reading Delta bluesman Big Jack Jackson says you can’t hardly tell the rap kids nuttin’

Jack De Keyzer grew to like Howlin’ Wolf more than the Stones

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 19, 2002 By Steve Newton Toronto blues-rocker Jack De Keyzer spent the first decade of his life in England, when the biggest thing in pop music was Cliff Richard and the Shadows. Just before he moved to Ontario, though, the Beatles came along, and it was through the … Continue reading Jack De Keyzer grew to like Howlin’ Wolf more than the Stones

Deborah Coleman switched from bass to guitar after hearing Jimi Hendrix

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 4, 2002 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 … Continue reading Deborah Coleman switched from bass to guitar after hearing Jimi Hendrix

Lester Quitzau was a Zeppelin-loving wheelie king as a kid

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 14, 2002 On his latest CD, So Here We Are, Edmonton’s Lester Quitzau makes a strong case for his being touted as among this country’s finest blues-roots pickers. But a close look at the disc’s video portion reveals that Quitzau’s talents are more than just musical. In one … Continue reading Lester Quitzau was a Zeppelin-loving wheelie king as a kid

My interview with 18-year-old Jordan Cook, long before he ruled as Reignwolf

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 6, 2001 By Steve Newton A lot of musicians catch the music bug early on in life, though usually not as early as 18-year-old blues guitarist Jordan Cook. After he was born, the first thing Cook heard on a regular basis was the sound of his dad taking … Continue reading My interview with 18-year-old Jordan Cook, long before he ruled as Reignwolf

Blues great Taj Mahal is quick to name names

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 15, 2001 By Steve Newton When I ask famous musicians who they’ve been listening to, half the time they brush the question off, claiming that they’ve just been focusing on their own material. Other times you get people—like Taj Mahal—who like to name names. When I track the … Continue reading Blues great Taj Mahal is quick to name names

Guitar Shorty says Jimi Hendrix used to go AWOL to catch his gigs

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 17, 2001 Hordes of rock guitarists have been influenced by Jimi Hendrix, but only a few would claim that he was influenced by them. According to Guitar Shorty’s latest bio, in the ’60s Hendrix would go AWOL from the U.S. army in order to catch Shorty’s gigs at … Continue reading Guitar Shorty says Jimi Hendrix used to go AWOL to catch his gigs

Chicago blues ace Lil’ Ed Williams learned to be nice from his uncle J.B. Hutto

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 3, 2001 On the cover of his latest CD, Get Wild!, blues-rocker Lil’ Ed Williams is pictured atop his rhythm guitarist’s shoulders, lookin’ sharp in a black-and-gold fez, sporting a huge grin and a red Washburn guitar with the name Pamela in block letters on the front. That’s … Continue reading Chicago blues ace Lil’ Ed Williams learned to be nice from his uncle J.B. Hutto

Too Slim and the Taildraggers sample Lightnin’ Hopkins on King Size Troublemakers

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 12, 2000 You’d think a band from Washington state that’s been around as long as Too Slim and the Taildraggers would have made at least a couple of runs across the border to play for blues-hungry Canucks. But as guitarist-vocalist Tim “Too Slim” Langford explains from his Spokane … Continue reading Too Slim and the Taildraggers sample Lightnin’ Hopkins on King Size Troublemakers

Deborah Coleman was wowed by the blues grooves of Hooker, Wolf, and Waters

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 20, 2000 There are a helluva lot of lead guitarists in the world, and a tidy portion of them are blues pickers. Increasingly, that category includes females, from veteran slide specialist Bonnie Raitt to 14-year-old blues-rock sensation Shannon Curfman. But for some reason there aren’t many black female … Continue reading Deborah Coleman was wowed by the blues grooves of Hooker, Wolf, and Waters

Ray Bonneville hits his stride with Juno-winning Gust of WInd

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, APRIL 6, 2000 BY STEVE NEWTON Only two songs into Ray Bonneville’s new CD, Gust of Wind, and I’m starting to think: “This guy reminds me of someone.” There’s a familiar timbre to his laid-back vocals, and the gently percolating blues rings a bell. I’ve got it! Eric Clapton, … Continue reading Ray Bonneville hits his stride with Juno-winning Gust of WInd

R.L. Burnside keeps his fridge chained shut and his blues cool as hell

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 24, 1999 BY STEVE NEWTON On the back cover of his latest CD, Come On In, Mississippi bluesman R.L. Burnside is pictured standing in his modest kitchen, strumming a Stratocaster and gazing toward his fridge—which is chained shut. Since Burnside has been known to distill his own moonshine, … Continue reading R.L. Burnside keeps his fridge chained shut and his blues cool as hell

Eddy Clearwater took Magic lessons on Chicago’s West Side

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 24, 1999 Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater chose a good guy to hang with when he moved to Chicago’s West Side in 1950. As a budding, 15-year-old bluesman, Clearwater became close friends with Magic Sam, the legendary West Side guitarist who died of a heart attack at the age … Continue reading Eddy Clearwater took Magic lessons on Chicago’s West Side

Bluesman Bill Perry lays it down fast and raw on Love Scars debut

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 17, 1996 I remember when I was about 13 years old and my guitar teacher had his students put on a recital in some big old rented hall. If I recall correctly, the highlight of my performance involved some nervous noodling on an unspectacular rendition of everybody’s all-time … Continue reading Bluesman Bill Perry lays it down fast and raw on Love Scars debut

Down Under slide-guitarist Dave Hole sports an over-the-top style

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 18, 1993 By Steve Newton As a musically inclined teenager living in Perth, Australia, during the 1960s, Dave Hole didn’t get the opportunity to hear much music by the great American bluesmen of the time. One fateful day, however, a member of his teenaged cover band got his … Continue reading Down Under slide-guitarist Dave Hole sports an over-the-top style

Quinn Sullivan found his love of the blues early—really early

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCT. 29, 2013 By Steve Newton The blues world has produced its fair share of guitar-wielding child prodigies. Growing up with family connections to the Allman Brothers, Derek Trucks scored his first paid gig at 11. And Kenny Wayne Shepherd took up guitar at the age of seven, shortly after being … Continue reading Quinn Sullivan found his love of the blues early—really early

Jim Byrnes Busts Out of the Blues

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MARCH 18, 2004 FOR MANY VANCOUVER music fans, the name Jim Byrnes brings to mind a laid-back blues veteran, grizzled yet hip, weaving soulful tales with his smoky voice, slipping in subtle slide-guitar bits here and there. The actor-musician's latest CD, Fresh Horses, doesn't abandon his patented sound, but it also offers … Continue reading Jim Byrnes Busts Out of the Blues

Blue Voodoo shoots for versatility

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, APRIL 15, 2004 It's just after midnight on a Friday in downtown New Westminster, but there are few signs of weekend revelry along the main drag of Columbia Street. Still, a Surrey-based acoustic combo named the Blue Voodoo is doing its best to get at least a few of the Royal … Continue reading Blue Voodoo shoots for versatility

Tinsley Ellis shed blood en route to blues mastery

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, JULY 16, 2008 By Steve Newton Like many of today’s top blues-rock guitarists, Tinsley Ellis was hugely influenced by the six-string action of the early Rolling Stones. He recalls being particularly entranced by the fretwork of Brian Jones on the Stones’ 1965 cover of Willie Dixon’s “Little Red Rooster”. “I heard … Continue reading Tinsley Ellis shed blood en route to blues mastery