Colin James to rock the Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival

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Canadian blues icon Colin James is excited to wind up the Lethbridge Blues and jazz Festival, June 17 at the Enmax Centre.Colin James will headline the Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival, June 17 at the Enmax Centre. Photo by James O’Mara
He’ll be bringing his long time touring band of ( Geoff Hicks – Drums; Steve Pelletier – Bass Chris Caddell – Guitar; Jesse O’Brien – Keys; Steve Marriner – Harmonica; Steve Hilliam – Saxophone ) plus special guest MonkeyJunk’s Steve Marriner.


“It will be great to see Steve again. He played on five or six songs on the album. It wasn’t live. He had to record it remotely, but you’d never know it to hear it,” said James from his North Vancouver residence, where he has been living for the past wight years.
“Those guys used to come to my shows when I was in my 20s and they were the 13 and 14 years olds in the audience. So we go back a long way. I’m good friends will all of them especially MonkeyJunk’s drummer Matt Sobb.”
James is touring in support of his latest album of blues classics “Blue Highways,” which resulted from a marathon recording session at the end of the last tour.


“We just came off the tour for the last album and the band was hot, so we went into the studio and recorded 30 songs in three days,” he said adding it was a challenge to choose the songs for the CD, though some were easier than others.


“It‘s funny, but we recorded 30 songs in three days and after we listened to them, some of the songs were in the wrong keys or the wrong speed, so we couldn’t use them,” he said, adding they are going to record another 20-30 songs during another marathon recording session after this tour.


One of the highlights of the CD is blues classic “Going Down” which has been recorded by everybody from the song’s author Don Nix to Govt. Mule.
“I really like Freddy King’s version a lot. Don Nix’s version is excellent,” he observed.
He enjoys playing “Going Down.”
“I use the same guitar I use for  ‘Just Came Back’ which is tuned to a low D. It has a nice, low  grinding, growling  sound,” he said.
 he is also known for playing  a great version of Fleetwood Mac’s classic “Oh Well.”

“I’ve always been a big fan of Mick Fleetwood. It is just an amazing song and everybody in the band really needs to be super tight and refined to play it,” he said.

He has been blessed to be friends with many well known musicians like Tm Wilson and Colin Linden and blues icons including late great blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan and his brother Jimmie Vaughan.
“I haven’t talked to Jimmie for about eight years. I really need to call him. I’d love to record with him,” he said, adding he is lucky to have been able to play with some of his idols.


“I got up and did a couple of songs with Buddy Guy at his club ‘Legends’ in Chicago. And whenever Carlos Santana is in Vancouver, he’ll bring me up on stage to play a song with him,” he said, adding one of many career highlights was playing with John Hammond and Ryan Adams.
He always knew he wanted to play the blues.


“I fell in love with the blues as soon as I heard James Cotton and Muddy Waters when I was 13 or 14 and I knew that was what I wanted to do,” he said.
“I’m from Saskatchewan. So the fact that I could do this and make a living playing the blues really is a blessing,” he said.


He observed the popularity of blues music comes in waves.
“It changes. There are more bands playing the blues since bands like the Black Keys have started playing,” he said.


“People want to see something real,” he continued.
He is pleased to play the Lethbridge Jazz and Blues festival this year.
“Jazz and blues have always existed together and influences each other,” James said, adding the show will include a lot of music.
“It’ll be a real blues show. We’ll play as much of the album as we can. We want to make it a special experience,” he continued.


Tickets for Colin James cost $39.50 and up. The show begins at the Enmax Centre at 7:30 p.m., June 17.

A Version of this story appears in the June 7, 2017 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times/Shopper
—By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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Last Updated ( Sunday, 04 June 2017 11:33 )