Jackson and Daddys to rock Wild Bill's
It’s going to be like old home week when Shirley Jackson and her Good Rockin’ Daddys roll into Alberta.
Jackson, who grew up in Sundre and started on her music career in the central Alberta region, plays Wild Bill’s, Sunday (July 29).
She and her Good Rockin’ Daddys are flying in from the Maritimes for a mini-Alberta tour that will see them play Banff, the Calgary Blues Festival, Sundre Art Centre, the Hideout in Red Deer and Calgary’s National Music Centre before heading east for the festival season.
The band that will tour Alberta is: Jackson (vocals, tenor sax), Dawn Hatfield (baritone sax), Ron Hines (upright bass), Marc Doucet (guitar) and Marks Lockhart (drums). Usually, Jackson’s son, Jef Wirchenko, does bass duties, and a couple of other regulars, Dave Harrison and Rob McIntosh, but the three were unavailable.
The story of GRD goes back to 1995, when a group of players who wanted to make some blues, dance and swing music got together. Throughout the years there have been many active members of the Good Rockin’ Daddys and all have contributed vital elements.
Jackson was part of a musically-inclined family in Sundre (a family band at age 10); her mother sang, while sisters and brothers played guitar and banjo. “We were surrounded by music,” she said. Before moving to the Maritimes 25 years ago, she played in a few bands in her teens and late 20s.
But life and a relationship gone bad prompted a move east. She enrolled in Dalhousie University’s music program, as a percussionist, then majored in percussion and sax. At the same time, she said, “I decided to get an education degree.”
The combination has worked out well because, while Jackson and GRD regularly gig close to home, it’s during the summer months, when she isn’t working as a music teacher inspiring children, that the band hits the road for gigs and festivals.
While in the Maritimes, Halifax is home base now, Jackson decided another change was in order and she moved to California to teach at a private school – 9/11 though, found her longing to be home and she moved back to Nova Scotia.
Since then, the band released two East Coast Music Award nominated works – Careful What You Ask For (2001) and Comfort Food (2007). Most recently, the band released When The Money’s All Gone (2012).
Jackson said GRD sets are mostly originals, written by Jackson herself, and some “obscure” covers.
“I love writing music and I’ve been doing it all along,” she said. “And then, when you have an absolutely wonderful band, things work out. I write the lyrics, horn lines and do most of the arranging, but then it all goes to the band for polishing.”
Keeping music in the family with son Jeff was something of a happy happenstance, said Jackson. At one point, “I needed a bass player because my regular couldn’t make a gig. I was on the phone, calling people and Jeff was in the background. He said, ‘mom, I can do it’. So he gave it a shot and we’ve playing together for 16 years now. He’s great on the upright bass and is a wonderful arranger.”
As to genre, Jackson and GRD span a range of material, but she herself describes the music as “horn-powered, blues, jump and swing, with a lot of energy. It’s something like Colin James, Roomful of Blues…”
Jackson has honed her craft on stage with GRD as well as The Dutch Mason Blues Band, Joe Murphy & The Waterstreet Blues Band, A.J. & The Redhots, Theresa Malenfant, Frank Mackay & The Lincolns, Glamour Puss Blues Band, The Twisters, and the annual Ladies in Blue concert in Halifax.
“It’s quite the road we’ve travelled,” she said. “Year-round, we play pretty close to home so we can fit jobs in and tend to family, but in summer we get on the road and I’m really excited about some of these shows, especially in Sundre. I’ll be seeing people there I haven’t seen since high school.
“I have two bands going (also the SideCats), and we’re quite busy all year. I’m living in a place I love and music is all around.”
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