Saturday, September 20, 2008

Back from NB

I spent last week in Fredericton, New Brunswick at the Harvest Jazz and
Blues Festival - what a well-run event and what a great town. Hospitality
Central! I was met at the airport and kept on schedule the whole time I was
there by a wonderful couple of volunteers, Cathy and Jerry, who made sure I
was where I had to be at all times and became my number one fans for the
duration. I think we made a few other fans, too, walking though the tent
after my set at the late-night finale jam I encountered many smiling faces
and congratulatory pats on the back.

My highlight was discovering Eric Bibb. I can't believe this guy has slipped
under my radar all these years - I even had one of his CDs on the shelf! He
was positively inspiring and I had the chance to tell him so. He had the
best guitar sound I ever heard - I was sure he was using some kind of octave
pedal to give his guitar that incredible bass. There was no pedal, but he
did tell me that tunes his guitar lower (and probably uses fatter strings).

I was anxious to hear Ana Popovic and she did not disappoint - in fact, I
owe her one because I got to fill in for her at the Guitar Workshop when she
was delayed at the border. She is a phenomenal player, I only wish she would
get her foot off that wah-wah pedal once in while. Derek Trucks is a
beautiful player too, but I wish he would put down the slide. Alas both
those thangs are part of their respective "signatures" so I better get used
to it. I discovered one great Chicago blues guitarist who I had never heard
of - Nick Moss. He is, as they say, "the real deal" and it's not just
because he's from Chicago. He was part of Colorblind Brian's Blues Campfire
along with Treasa Levasseur (& David Baxter), Steve Marriner and Stuart
MacDougal from Alberta. We had a big crowd for the Campfire so the usual
guidelines for the more intimate campfires (ie, brand new original tunes)
went out the window and we just played a lot of favourite blues tunes and
passed around the solos. I did start it off with my newest composition, "The
day Coke saved the blues" and late that night as I was jamming with Steve
Marriner and Shirley Jackson's band, Nick was at the side of the stage
shouting "play the day Coke saved the blues!" When you meet Nick Moss you
will see that he is one of the "larger than life" characters whose requests
you should heed. So I played it for the crowd though I wondered if it might
be a little "inside" for public consumption. It is the story of how a song
saved my record label, Northern Blues, from going under. Now everybody in
New Brunswick is humming it!