Durst gets down and dirty

Blues rocker Bill Durst, who’s been nominated for a Maple Blues Award for his “electric live act,” feels like a hated man.

Blues rocker Bill Durst, who’s been nominated for a Maple Blues Award for his “electric live act,” feels like a hated man.

“Blues purists hate rock ’cause they consider it the bastard son of the blues,” said Durst, who performs on Friday, Dec. 6, at The Vat.

It follows then, that Durst believes his hybrid music is reviled by many blues sticklers. “They say it’s too heavy,” added the musician, putting a sarcastic stress on the last word.

Well, take this purists: Durst has purposely called his new album Hard and Heavy. “What I’m doing is pushing it in their face,” he admitted with a subversive chuckle. “It’s like saying I am the bastard son of rock and I’ve come back to play the blues!”

Regardless of the divisions that exist in blues music, somebody obviously likes Durst enough to have nominated him for a Maple Blues Award. The London, Ont., native feels his nomination was put forward by promoters and people who appreciate his live shows.

“I’m delighted” with this first national accolade, said Durst, who thinks he actually has a crack at winning, as the award will be decided by a public vote at www.mapleblues.ca. (The deadline is Dec. 7.)

Durst is even optimistic enough to hope his new album might blow open his chances for a Juno nomination. (Blame those darned blues purists for squeezing blues-rockers out of previous contention, he said. “They have not the slightest idea what to do with me. …”)

The singer/songwriter and guitarist admitted that his music is “no Poison, Mötley Crüe or Bon Jovi.” But he’s no Chicago blues artist either.

In fact, he writes off “three-chord” Chicago blues as being “one of the most boring art forms on Earth.”

His sound is more inspired by British blues rockers, such as The Yardbirds, Eric Clapton and Cream. Durst also sings the praises of the debut Led Zeppelin 1 release that was described as shockingly loud for its marriage of blues and metal.

On Hard and Heavy, Durst has co-written most songs with Joe DeAngels, his fellow band member from the former 1970s group Thundermug, which was perhaps best known for producing the single Africa and touring with the Stampeders and April Wine.

Some of his favourite tunes on the new CD are Heartless Man, about the kind of guy who walks over other people, and Blue Rain, about getting through tough times (the latter song sends Durst on an anti-Prime Minister Stephen Harper tirade that includes the terms “malevolent government” and “unbelievable sycophants.”)

One of the most touching tunes on the release is Angels Fly, which was inspired by a TV interview Durst once heard. The woman was talking about one of her grandma’s sayings: “Angels fly because they take themselves lightly.”

“When I sing that one alone with my guitar, we tend to get a moderate amount of tears” from the crowd, he admitted.

For more information about the show, call 403-346-5636.


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