Living up to the legends

The Black Keys and The White Stripes are essentially blues bands that identify themselves as rockers, says Canadian blues musician Paul Reddick.

The Black Keys and The White Stripes are essentially blues bands that identify themselves as rockers, says Canadian blues musician Paul Reddick.

“It would be nice if we could use the (blues) word,” said Reddick, who believes this would draw more young fans to a genre that sometimes seems headed for the bone yard.

While the 51-year-old has won several Maple Blues Awards for his solo music, as well as with his former band, The Sidemen, he recalls thinking at the last ceremony put on by the Toronto Blues Society, “most of the people here are my age or older.

“Seems like when I’m asked about what I think of the blues, I should say it’s got 15 to 20 years left,” said Reddick.

But the Toronto-based musician, who performs on Saturday at Fratters Speakeasy in Red Deer, feels he’s the last one to be cynical about a musical genre he loves.

While the traditional blues, performed in the style of Muddy Waters, appears to have limited relevance for younger generations, Reddick is heartened that permutations of the blues are still popular — especially when contemporary songwriters draw from the genre’s wellspring for their own tunes.

“Maybe we should let the old styles RIP,” said Reddick, who pushes the envelope of conventional blues music himself.

His own motto has been not to copy his heroes — Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter — “but to try to live up to them.”

Reddick was turned on to the blues as a kid, by

listening to his older brother’s music and attending parties at his uncle’s house. “My Uncle Bill was kind of a cool cat. He still is a very cool cat,” he said, with a chuckle.

Reddick taught himself the harmonica at age 12 by wearing out several blues recordings learning to play along.

“I thought it was the heaviest, most beautiful mu- sic I’d ever heard. It so strongly expressed heartache and longing and sexiness, and confidence … I was transfixed by it.” And the harmonica seemed the perfect instrument for conveying that, said Reddick, who sees the harp as being connected to the heart and breath.

He has since become one of the country’s preeminent blues singer/songwriters and harmonica players — first with his Juno-nominated band The Side- men (best known for the 2001 album, Rattlebag), and then as a solo artist, who has put out three releases, including 2012’s Wishbone.

This blues-rock album is built around a title character who embodies the hard-living, footloose blues persona.

Several songs, including the first two ballads Red- dick has written, “are about love and loss and beauty and movement. They are poetry-influenced and I like to tell stories,” said the songwriter, who tried to represent the “unknowns of life and love and the mysteries of it.”

Other tunes on the release are more rollicking, including Devil’s Road, co-written with Tom Wilson (of Lee Harvey Osmond and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings).

Reddick is starting to pull together material for another new album in the same “loud, rocking” vein. He sees it as being built around motion, which has become essential to his songwriting.

The musician sometimes buys Greyhound Bus tickets to other Southern Ontario destinations just so he can write songs during the journeys.

“I’ll stay in town in a coffee shop for a couple of hours and then I’ll take the bus back again.”

Why this works “is abstract to me,” he admitted, “but there’s a pattern in songs that corresponds to the rhythm of movement.”

Reddick’s Western tour could be particularly polific, since he plans to take the train from Toronto to Edmonton. He gets to ride for free, under Via Rail’s Artist on Board program, as long as he entertains other passengers en route.

“What a fantastic way to travel!”

Tickets are $10 at the door. For more information, call 403-356-0033.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Photos: Red Deer barn dance entertains children, adults Tuesday

Hundreds of Central Albertans started their Westerner Days celebrations early with an… Continue reading

Manslaughter charge laid against Red Deer man more than a year after homicide

A manslaughter charge has been laid against a Red Deer man, more… Continue reading

Woman facing charges after pedestrian critically injured in hit and run

A woman is in custody in connection with an alleged hit and… Continue reading

Friday hail storm came at a bad time for farmers

Amount of damage a hail storm does often depends on how far along crops are

Record 10 homers as AL wins All-Star Game 8-6 in 10 innings

American League 8 National League 6 (1o innings) WASHINGTON — A record… Continue reading

Photos: Red Deer barn dance entertains children, adults Tuesday

Hundreds of Central Albertans started their Westerner Days celebrations early with an… Continue reading

Man suffers critical injuries, Red Deer police arrest woman in pedestrian crash

A man is in hospital with critical injuries and Mounties have arrested… Continue reading

Cull hasn’t been able to solve bunny burden in Alberta mountain town of Canmore

CANMORE, Alta. — Problems persist in an Alberta mountain town overrun with… Continue reading

Canada should help Holocaust denier on trial in Germany: civil liberties group

OTTAWA — A civil liberties group is urging the Canadian government to… Continue reading

Westerner Days: Send us your photos

Your reader photo may just make the pages of the Adovcate.

Adam Henrique signs $29.1M, 5-year extension with Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Centre Adam Henrique has signed a $29.1 million, five-year… Continue reading

Fashion firms upend design routine to focus on speed, trends

NEW YORK — Prototypes? Passe. Fashion company Betabrand saw that knitwear was… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month