Blues Caravan rolls into Legion
Thursday, May 30, 2013 06:00 am
The ninth annual Blues Caravan is rumbling across Canada.
A product of German record label Ruf Records, the Blues Caravan takes three international blues artists and tours them together around the world.
This year’s Caravan consists of Jimmy Bowskill from Toronto, Bart Walker from Nashville and Joanne Shaw Taylor from the U.K.
The Outlook spoke with Bowskill on Friday (May 24) from Nelson, B.C., where the band was set to play the first show of the Canadian leg of the tour.
“The Blues Caravan’s put on by a record label out of Germany called Ruf Records, and he does it every year – almost 10 years. He puts together a tour of a bunch of his artists,” said Bowskill. “We came together for the tour based on that.
“My band ends up playing Germany an awful lot, and it just made sense. There’s a real strong blues scene there. Ruf’s a pretty cool label, he’s got some great artists. All blues is well received, there’s a pretty strong scene there.”
On June 6, the tour takes to the stage at the Canmore Legion. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door, and the show is at 8 p.m.
“We take turns to begin with – we each play a set of about 35 minutes – and then we do a few together at the end of the night,” said Bowskill, explaining the format. “We haven’t yet written any music yet, but we’ll see what happens.
“We recorded a song about the Blues Caravan, just like a promo track, but that’s the closest we’ve come.”
Bowskill had his professional start when he was discovered by Jeff Healey, he said.
“Healey had a bar in downtown Toronto and we heard that every Thursday he had an open mic night. I was almost 11 at the time and my old man called the club to see if I could sit in and they said ‘no, your son’s way too young,’ so I went down anyway and ended up busking out front, figuring Jeff had to come in sometime,” he explained. “And after a few hours he ended up coming out and inviting me into the club to play a tune with the band that night.
“That started my career for me – that was my first time on stage and I got an offer to make my first record and a bunch of other stuff – it all just came together, it was a magic night.”
Just 22 years old, Bowskill grew up listening to the likes of Zeppelin, Hendrix and Queen, which led to his discovery of the blues.
“My folks were big music lovers and they always had this music playing, and I got pretty hard into that, and I just decided to trace the routes and see what those guys were listening to,” he said. “And I got into Robert Johnston, Charlie Patton and Muddy Waters and all that kind of stuff, and that was my start of a love for the blues.
“My stuff’s more ’70s rock trio-based stuff, real strong blues influence. It’s like blues with an edge.”
His bandmates have dramatically different styles, he said.
“Bart Walker, he’s from Tennessee, and his stuff’s a little more like Texas blues rock. A little like ZZ Top meets Stevie Ray Vaughan. He’s a pretty rad player,” he said. “And Joanne’s a little more psychedelic, she listens to a lot of Hendrix and stuff like that. Still very blues based, longer solos and that kind of thing.”
Also playing with the Caravan are drummer Denis Palatin and bassist Ian McKeown.
“The drummer’s from Nashville and plays with Bart regularly and the bass player’s from my band, so he’s a Toronto guy,” he said. “We’re a motley crew, we’re having fun.”
After Canmore, the tour continues east into Alberta and then heads south.
“We’ve been kinda touring since January. We did Germany, then more overseas, and we’re on the road steady till late July,” said Bowskill. “It’s going well, everyone’s pretty laid back, it’s a good vibe on the road – they’re great to play with – good players and good people.”