The White Rock Blues Society


The Surrey Now Newspaper


Powder Blues Band is now in its 35th year of making music, but right now bandleader Tom Lavin would rather talk about the super guitar-playing skills of James "Buddy" Rogers.

"Every guitar player in the world can play a blues lick, but how many of the ones I've seen over the past 45 years in the Lower Mainland are really good at playing the blues?" Lavin starts. "I can probably count 'em on one hand - two at the most. Everyone can sit there and pose and lift Stevie Ray Vaughan riffs or whatever, but a good blues player is someone who is endlessly innovative and has style and phrasing that does the trick. And I think James 'Buddy' Rogers is in the big league - and guys like B.B. King think so, too. He said it's good to finally see a white guy play like a black one."

Lavin produced and co-wrote 10 songs for Rogers' latest album, My Guitar's My Only Friend, and has inited Rogers to open for Powder Blues at its gig in Surrey next week.

"I've known him since he was 15, and he's 37 now - more than half his life," Lavin said of Rogers. "The last record he did, I kind of semi-risked our friendship because I told him I didn't like it, and I sat him down and said, 'Hey man, you're way better than this, and if you want to do an album again, I'll produce it for nothing, just because I think you need something that represents who and what you are." 

The Chicago-born Lavin, 63, said he has helped promote and foster just one other musician in this way: Jim Byrnes.

"You know, I am doing for James what I did for Jim Byrnes, whose album I produced in 1981 when Powder Blues was in its heyday."

Lavin brings Powder Blues Band to South Surrey's Rhumba Room bar (at Pacific Inn hotel) for White Rock Blues Society's "Valentine's Blues Extravaganza" on Saturday, Feb. 16. Tickets are available online at

Back in 1978, Powder Blues Band got its start playing house gigs at Gastown nightclubs as a Chicago-style horn blues band that had people dancing from note one. Their accomplished goal was to play 26 nights a month - something unheard of these days, in an era of few venues for live bands.

By1981, the band was hitting stages 322 nights a year across North America, fueled by an early string of hits that included "Hear That Guitar Ring," "Doin' it Right (on the Wrong Side of Town)" and "Thirsty Ears."

Lavin still loves to play, and has Guitarist Tom Lavin leads Powder Blues Band to Surrey for a special "Valentine's Blues Extravaganza" gig on Saturday, Feb. 16.

booked Powder Blues into high-profile festivals across Canada this coming summer, in celebration of the band's 35th anniversary.

We hardly ever play the Lower Mainland - two or three shows a year," he said.

"(In Surrey Feb. 16), we'll touch on all the hits, but we'll stretch out on stuff, too," Lavin told the Now.

"The players in the band are so good that I really love to let them stretch and solo a bit. Out in (Surrey), I'll bring a three-piece horn section, which I never do on the road - I'm always two-piece. And we'll go with a seven-piece - two saxes, trumpet, guitar, bass drums and keys. I've known these guys for half of my life so it's fun to get together to do stuff we love doing."

© Copyright (c) Surrey Now


The Surrey Now Newspaper

John Lee Sanders sounds off


 John Lee Sanders - Photograph by: Langley Advance

Keyboard player John Lee Sanders and his five-piece backing band will have the Rhumba Room bar hopping Saturday (June 16) with New Orleans-style funk/blues. Of course, it's another fine event produced by White Rock Blues Society (admission is $25/20 via, or call 604-542-6515 for details).

Sanders, a South Surreyite for the past several years, has some cool stories to tell about his musical past, which includes stage time with Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Page, Starship, Dr. John, Tower of Power and others.

As a kid, circa 1957, he met Elvis Presley.

"I was probably six years old. Elvis had bought his first house about three or four doors down from my aunt and uncle, and it was a really exciting time.- He was already exploding on the national charts, and 'Teddy Bear' was huge. I remember that because his mom and dad took me into the house and there were teddy bears all over the house."

In 1975, he got to know Stevie Ray Vaughan, before the guitarist was popular.

"I was living in Dallas and playing in a band called Buster Brown.- Our equipment truck broke down, and the Vaughan brothers had just moved down to Austin, and our drummer knew some of the guys in the Thunderbirds, who were just starting out doing club gigs. We didn't have enough money for a hotel room and were pretty hard up at the time. Our drummer called the Thunderbirds and Stevie Ray and Jimmy were all living in a band house somewhere, and I remember the time they took us to a great Mexican restaurant and paid for everything, and Stevie Ray and Jimmy and I sat up all night one time. Elvis' Sun sessions record had just come out on vinyl, and Stevie and I sat up listening to it, cuz we hadn't heard a lot of those cuts, you know. It was a great time, and Stevie was real nice, a year or two younger than me, and was just starting to get established on the scene, just starting to get a buzz."

Much later, Sanders was the musical director for Long John Baldrey's band for the final years of the singer's life.

At the Rhumba Room, Sanders' band includes Chris Nordquist on drums, Tim Porter on guitar, A-Train on bass, Steve Hilliam on tenor sax and Vince Mai on trumpet.

This fall, Sanders will be opening for Bonnie Raitt at concerts in Vancouver and Calgary.
© Copyright (c) Surrey Now

White Rock Sun Newspaper

Where did your musical odysey begin?

Saturday evening JOHN LEE SANDERS and his rhythm orchestra take the stage at the Pacific Inn in the Rhumba Room for a hip shaking New Orleans Deep Fried Funk dance party. Between rehearsals this week JOHN LEE spent the afternoon answering our probing questions. There are the pressing matters - of his name JOHN LEE and that picture of him with Elvis Presley's father.

John Lee welcome to the electronic pages of the White Rock Sun. Let's go back to the very beginning. Where did your musical odysey begin?

My family and I moved to the deep south, to Jackson Mississippi, in 1953, I was 2 years old, and I absorbed any and every music I heard, whether it was Mozart, black acoustic delta blues that had come out of the cotton fields of our landscape, Jazz from nearby New Orleans,  Black Gospel from the church,  Country and Western, and my Mother’s favorite Broadway show tune soundtracks.   I’ve known I wanted create music since I could reach the keys on my Grandparents out of tune upright piano.  In those days, it seemed most people had a piano in the living room, and it seemed to me the most natural form of expression, and having 2 older brothers that could sing and harmonize, I learned that vocal expression was as normal as speaking.  Whoever laid out those black and white keys in that configuration was a genius, the harmonic structure of music seemed mapped out in some mathematical formula on those keys, and I was determined to decode the process, luckily there were many who had come before me.  

 My brother Chip, who was 6 years older, had started classical piano, had a great ear, and was already learning the piano styles of Ray Charles and Jerry Lee Lewis, who was born a few miles from our Louisiana home town, Monroe.  I watched every note Chip played,  the boogie bass lines, and every chord in his right hand.  He could pick out almost any song that he heard.  He could read music pretty well but could play by ear even better, and had perfect pitch, as I realized I did later. My Grandmother was a pianist in the silent movies of Memphis, and lived 4 blocks away from the childhood home of Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul,  and walking distance from Stax Records, and Royal Recorders, where Al Green cut most of his hits.  I was always drawn to African American culture, by proximity and osmosis.   The authenticity of the music, and going back to my roots helped me find my own musical voice.  I became pretty well known in the Juke Joints of East Texas in my early music career, where most of my friends wouldn’t dare set foot, but musically I felt accepted, and never felt afraid, except the night when two guys pulled guns on each other on the dance floor, fighting over a woman.   The Rhythms of New Orlean so predominant in my music may seem complex to some of our listeners, but to those of us who have grown up around that culture, it’s so embedded into our culture, not just on a musical level, but as a part of everyday life, parades, funerals, etc.   I try to bring that feeling to the audience no matter where they are, they can feel that joyous spirit in what I do. 


There has to be an interestng story behind the picture of you and Elvis' father

I remember the day my father brought home a 45 rpm record that changed our lives, and the world for that matter.  It had a yellow Sun Records logo, just a paper sleeve, and no picture.  My dad’s State Farm Insurance office was upstairs from the local record store, and the store owner would give him copies of new releases we might like.  The owner of the record story told my dad, “I think this kid might go somewhere”  The song was called “That’s Alright Mama”, with a B side of “Blue Moon of Kentucky”  the first release from an unknown singer named Elvis Presley, and in small letters, Scotty and Bill.  I later learned that “Bill” was Bill Black, who my 2nd Cousin Arthur had been playing with around Memphis for years.  

 We loved his voice and that rockabilly groove, it was raw, and had an energy that I grabbed hold of.    I didn’t like kid’s music, I liked the real raw energy of R&B,
  We didn’t know if Elvis was black or white, especially since the white and black stations were playing it. 
We wore that record out, and to this day, it’s the holy relic of Rock and Roll, in a frame at my brother Chip’s house in Jackson. 

Three years later, Elvis signed a major record deal with RCA, and bought he and his parents a home a few doors down from my Aunt and Uncle, Ben and Eleanor Hannah.  We were so excited to hear the news,  for that year Elvis had risen to the level of fame equal to Michael Jackson and the Beatles.  I spent many a day, in Elvis’ front yard, as did many of the rest of the kids, hoping to say hello or get an autograph.
Well as my luck would have it, I had to use the bathroom on a hot Summer day, August 1957.  Elvis was on the road most of these days, but his dad, Vernon Presley was out front watering the rose garden.  
I mustered up the courage to speak to him,  “Mr. Presley, can I use your bathroom, my aunt’s house is too far to run back to, and I really have to go pee”.   Vernon said “come on up in her son, the bathroom’s down the hall to the left”.  I finished, and had a peek around the house, and said “can I see Elvis’s room”,   “Well I don’t think he’d mind” said Vernon.
I opened the door to find two small twin beds.  Apparently Elvis was afraid to sleep alone, and sometimes would have his cousin Billy Smith to stay with him.  There was
Floral wallpaper, satin bedspreads, and dozens of teddy bears sent by girls from everywhere.  Elvis had just had a hit record with “Teddy Bear” and we loved the song.
I came back out of the house with Vernon, to find my two brothers, Chip and Steve, and my dad with his camera.  He took a picture of all of us with Vernon Presley, in the driveway,  and I remember this day like it was yesterday, one of those pivotal events that change your life forever.    

We saw Elvis come and go a few times after that day in a new Harley, or a pink Cadillac convertible full of pretty girls , but the scene was so chaotic, it was hard to get close to him.  He had become larger than life, and so famous, that it wasn’t safe for his family to live in a small suburban house, with a constant flow of traffic down Audubon Drive, and an ever increasing mob of gawkers in his front yard hoping to get a glimpse.  I sensed a bit of snobbery with the neighbors to the Presley family, as they had come from the welfare projects, and were perceived as “White Trash” by some.  Elvis had paid cash for the house, and his Nouveau riche status for performing music that some considered Negro Rhythm and Blues, was too much for some of these older southern racist white folks, but to us young folks, we sensed there was a revolution in our culture, and Elvis was at the center of it all.     Those days were the last time Elvis could live a somewhat normal life, in a regular neighborhood without a gate with a 24 hour security guard, to monitor who comes and goes.  Such a phenomenon seeing someone with that much power and charisma, so close to home.  It must have been similar to what Michael Jackson and the Beatles experienced. 

Elvis opened so many doors in those days, and it’s hard for some of us who were born many years later, to see this revolution in music, and culture.  As we look at the Vegas Elvis, and the crooner of ballads,  it’s important to note that he "rocked the world", and broke down many barriers.   A few weeks after meeting Elvis and his Mom and Dad,  I practiced Hound Dog in front of the mirror, and performed at Sunday School Show and Tell,  the little girls screamed, and I thought to myself,  I should have a job like Elvis.


How did you end up coming to the Vancouver area? 

Long John and The Mod Rod

In May of 1986, during the week of the Chernobyl meltdown in Russia,  26 years ago  as I write this,  I got a call from Long John Baldry in Vancouver.   We had been on the same record label in 1981,  “Riva Records”  Founded by Rod Stewart and Manager “Billy Gaff”.  I stayed in Vancouver for a week,  during Expo 86, and recorded Baldry’s “Silent Treatment”  LP,  doing all of the sax parts.   I visited Vancouver off and on for 20 years before moving here.  I became friends with so many people and great musicians.   There seemed to be such a wonderful zeitgeist during Expo, that they were on the verge of being one of the great cities of the world, that I was caught up in the spirit, I believe it still exists. 
  I met a beautiful woman named Judy on one of my many tours through BC, and we were married in 2006, and I applied for landed resident status.  I couldn’t work for a year, but bought a house in White Rock, built a studio, and during the 18 months waiting for my permanent residence card, I learned to play guitar.    Sadly Judy and I  recently parted ways, but I decided to stay in this beautiful City. 


Your bio of artists you have played with or recorded with is a who's who of popular music. I am interested particularly how you ended up playing with the great JOHN LEE HOOKER.

I had the house gig with my band at JJs Blues Lounge, in Downtown San Jose,  California, during the 80s and 90s, every Sunday and Monday night,  and most every week,  when he wasn’t on the road,  through the dark smoky room, I could pick out a white blues fedora, at the end of the bar, nodding in time with a groove,  usually quiet and by himself,  it was the king of the Boogie, John Lee Hooker,  He must have been a fan, because he kept coming back around.  He was pretty shy, and I didn’t get to know him very well.   I loved John Lee Hooker,  his vocal style reminded me of the old black men I saw every day in my childhood in Mississippi, in the 1950s, 

My old buddy, Deacon Jones, who I had known as the Hammond Organist from the Freddie King band, back in my days in Dallas Texas,   was producing a John Lee Hooker LP, for a small indy label called Pausa records, and hired me on spec, which is, if the record label goes for the 4 or 5 song demo, the band gets paid, and they put up the money for the rest of the LP.   I only played on one track, which was good enough for me, to be on a record from my namesake,  I joked around with blues fans saying my mama named me after a famous Mississippi bluesman.  When I started touring with Long John Baldry, there were 3 johns in the band (and no waiting) and it got confusing,  Long John, Papa John King, and me,  so they all agreed I should put the “Lee” in, I mean it’s on my birth certificate.  My mother called me Johnny,  and only called me “John lee”  at my baptism and when she was mad at me. 
The song I recorded with JOHN LEE was “We’ll meet again”  a soulful ballad with a Ray Charles Gospel piano in 12/8 time.  “Here’s the deal” , says Deacon,  “If Hook likes the track, we go in and cut it with him live in the studio”,  well a week went by, Deacon calls and says,  “Hook loves the track, but he don’t wanna pay to bring no band back in, he just gon’ take my scratch vocal off, and put his on tape”   I said,  “that’s cool, long as I get paid”, well that’s another story, and I did get paid, years later after Richard Branson picked up the track for Virgin Records.   Anyway,  John Lee Hooker comes in Dragon Studio in Redwood City CA, about a 40 minute drive from his Beautiful Los Altos Hills home.  Bruce, the engineer asked if he needed anything to warm up,  John Lee Hooker replied in his smoky deep bluesy voice that could have been a line from the next song,  “Go gimme a Barbeque samich and a cold beer”  he chased the food with the beer, and did 2 or 3 takes and he was gone.   I went to one of JL’s last concerts, before he passed away, in San Francisco.  I surprised my girlfriend Judy, and told her to keep her eyes closed when walking up to the marquee.    We met him after the show, and he invited us to his home.  He said  “John Lee, you can play my piano, while me and Judy takes a walk in the garden”,  at 81 he was still frisky with the ladies. 


Many people in the Lower Mainland will remember you from LONG JOHN BALDRY'S band.  How did you come to play with the legendary LONG JOHN?

Long John Baldry

Baldry and I hit it off like old friends.  I didn’t see as much of him during the overdubs of the “Silent Treatment”  sessions in 1986, since during those days,  he would come to the studio when it was time to overdub his vocals.  He would joke in those days and say “Wake me when it’s a hit”, but I believe he became more involved in the hands on process later in his life.  
  Long John and I were both signed to the same record Label,  “Riva Records”  owned by Rod Stewart, and his manager, Billy Gaff.   I knew of him through the discovery of Elton John in the Rock History books.  I saw a genealogy family tree poster of  British Rock history that put Long John Baldry at the Root of it. .    The Producer of my first LP, back in 1981, , Jimmy Horowitz had booked me on the session, and I was so excited to meet Baldry and experience Canada for the first time.  Jimmy had produced many of the great Dusty Springfield Records, and had helped produce the “It Aint Easy”  LP with Rod Stewart and Elton John, Baldry’s biggest selling LP, into the millions. 
I toured and recorded with Long John Baldry off and on until his death in 2005.  I became his piano player and Music director for many of tour tours of Europe, Australia, and Canada.  So many great musical memories onstage and off.   Baldry was at times a proper English Gentleman with great stage presence and at times he had a  temper and would storm off the stage in a rage, leaving me or Kathi McDonald to finish the show.  Those tours with Baldry were some of the most exciting times of my life as a performer, and as a world traveler.  There was never enough time to explore the wonders of Europe, but often there would be a week to 10 days off in the middle, where I would travel to Paris, the south of France, Lourdes, London, and other places I had only dreamed of visiting. 

 Baldry Featured me as a lead vocalist on every show, and encouraged  me get back to my Southern blues roots, after many years pursuing fame in the record business and the pop music world.  We played some of the largest blues and Jazz festivals in the world.  I would stay at Long John’s Penthouse in Vancouver while rehearsing or having time off, where when you picked up the phone, you never knew if  it might be Elton John, Rod Stewart or Eric Clapton calling to say hello.   On one gig in Vancouver, we had a surprise jam session onstage with Jimmy Page From Led Zeppelin.  It was rock and roll Royalty at the Baldry house at times.    One interesting day,  I had just woken up around 10 AM, and was expecting a call from our drummer, the phone rang, and before I could pick it up in the living room, it went to the answering machine,  one of the older ones, that still used tape.  I immediately recognized the English accent coming through on the other end, from so many concerts and interviews,  since I often did a pretty good impersonation of this man. 

The Rocket Man

It was the man that had influenced me greatly,  as a songwriter, vocalist and piano player, Sir Elton John.  To Baldry it was his old band mate, Reg Dwight, who he had discovered playing in a Casino in England back around 1966, but to me it was Rock Royalty on the other end.  Baldry was still sleeping,  should I wake him up, and pick up the line?  Baldry had instructed us not to pick up the phone, because it was also his fax line, and every day there were tour itineraries, requests for interviews,  contracts, and correspondence from throughout Europe and North America,  so I just listened to the voice on the other end,  “Hey John, it’s Elton, you old Queen, I’m flying up from Atlanta to New York for a gig... Elton and Long John hadn’t spoken in 10 or 20 years, until this call out of the blue.   I inadvertently  had a peek at Long John’s address book lying open by the phone one day,  it was a who’s who of Rock and Roll, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart,   Elton John, the Rolling Stones, and on and on.  He not only knew these people as friends, but had a major influence on each one, as one who created an English Blues and Rock and Roll culture since the mid 50s. 

He had a great taste for Art and interior décor, with hundreds of historical Biographies, and history books. 
Touring Europe with Baldry was like having a European History lesson that spanned 2000 years.  He Spoke fluent German, and inspired me to learn, even though I still have a long way to go.  We toured Europe every Spring from 1993 until around 1999.   His favorite expression to the band, as we passed some gorgeous landscape of castles on the Danube was  “Some people pay thousands for this, and you’re getting it all for free”, in his basso profundo proper British upper crust accent.  He could do every British dialect there was, so I don’t know which was the real one. 

We played small pubs, huge festivals, prime time TV shows, and the club in Hamburg where the Beatles, (who began as Baldry’s opening act)  began their Career.    Playing for the first time in Hamburg was an eye opening experience, for we were playing in the Reeperbahn, the red light district of Hamburg, which made the French Quarter in New Orleans look pretty tame.   I can’t imagine the 20 year old Beatles playing there for 6 months, and what an experience it must have been for them.  Our second time playing Hamburg was at the Fabrik Club, where Long John and the band recorded a live Cd,  “On Stage Tonight” on of Baldry’s biggest selling CDs of the 90s.
We didn’t realize until we got to the gig, that it was a live radio broadcast, and by that time, the band was so tight, it was flawless, and was decided to release it to the world.   
 My wife, Judy, who had a natural and learned gift of healing, using Reiki, and Shiatsu, spent every day for months working on Long John at Vancouver General Hospital, in his final months.  I visited him as much as my schedule would allow, but the super bug infection had become drug resistant, and his body had lost the battle.   I owe much gratitude to Long John for encouraging me to be authentic in my music.  He had lived the life of a pop star, and realized it was not the music of his soul, and gravitated back to the blues.  He never received the riches and recognition of some of his superstar pals, but he was a great talent, a charismatic performer, and a dear friend. 


Given you have played with so many musical luminaries and headlined so many concerts it may be difficult to pin point just a couple of concerts that you cherish in your memory bank.

Last October, on my 60th Birthday,  I performed a special tribute concert to Hal David, the lyricist on all of the Burt Bacharach hit songs,  he had turned 90 years old in 2011.  I was playing keyboards and sax, and got to back up so many of my musical heroes,  probably the most influential, Stevie Wonder.  We didn’t know if he would make it until soundcheck the day of the show.  He had just flown in from Washington DC, to dedicate the Memorial of Martin Luther King, whom he helped create a national holiday for.  There were so many other great artists on the show, Smokey Robinson, Herb Alpert,  Dionne Warwick and others

In 2003,  I did a live DVD with songwriter Paul Williams, along with other special guests, including Willie Nelson.  I’ve done a pretty convincing Willie impersonation since the 70s, and during a break,  Paul asked me to pitch one of his recent songs to Willie,  in my “Willie” voice.   It was pretty strange, but Willie said in that downhome Texas drawl.. ..  “Man you sound just like me!,  When you do the demo,  sing it in my voice so I’ll know how to phrase it”.  

One one of Baldry’s Vancouver shows, at 86th Street,   I got to the soundcheck, and there was a huge Marshall Amp stack on the stage,  I asked around who was playing through it, and got no answer.   Later to find out, that Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin came and did a surprise guest appearance for the encore of the show.  I’ve seen fans mob the stage before at rock concerts, but never while I was playing on it.   He’s a master of the guitar, and one of the most brilliant men of Rock and Roll.   It was a thrill to work with him. 

For the last 4 years I’ve been playing with some iconic songwriters from ASCAP, (American Society of Composers and Publishers)  Grammy, Tony, Oscar, and multi-platinum hit makers in every genre, at the Library of Congress in Washington, It’s become one of the hottest tickets of the year in Washington, attended by many Senators and members of the House of Representatives.  I’ve come to meet many of them over the last few years, including Madame Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who had such kind and flattering words on my performance.  In 2010 I was asked by Bill Withers to sing the closing finale song, of his mega-hit,  “Lean on Me”.   I love history, politics and songwriting, and each concert was a very special night.  


A few years ago you recorded a live CD and DVD at Blue Frog Studios in White Rock.  From those session came a beautiful gospel song "When He Returns."  You also have a full gospel CD and recently performed a gospel concert at the Pender Island Blues Festival.  You will also be performing with gospel show with a choir in Fort Langley later this summer.  What motivates you to do gospel music in addition to the blues?

I began singing and playing in the church as a child, and have never strayed from my Christian roots.  My musical gifts come from God, as do all gifts.  Growing up in the deep south, I was drawn to the soul and spirit of the Black Christian Church,  I have a university music degree, and love the music of the church all the way back to Gregorian chants, the masses of Bach, and Mozart, but the Holy Spirit speaks to my soul in the form of Black Gospel Music.   Most of my favorite performers began singing in the church, and I know we all share this spiritual connection in common.  When I hear Aretha, Whitney, Sam Cooke and Elvis,  I hear the roots of the church in their music.  The Blues is the secular side of Gospel music, it’s rhythms, harmonies, tonal structure share the same dna, but the two genres have always been  intertwined in my daily struggle with spirit and the flesh.   I have a song in progress called “When Ash Wednesday Comes Around”, the day after Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, when we enter the 40 days of lent leading to Easter. 
In February 2011,  right around carnival time,  Mardi Gras/ Ash Wednesday,  I was diagnosed with Throat Cancer, and didn’t know if I would survive or sing again.   Being from Louisiana, This song is the story of those 2 important days of the year in our culture, and the two coexisting worlds of the Blues and Gospel.  To most people Ash Wednesday means the party’s all over, but to some of us,  it’s just the beginning of the journey. 

When Ash Wednesday comes around.
On that day When flesh, and  spirit worlds collide
Swing down chariot with the angels let me ride
for trinkets, beads and riches I have strived
Lay down My silver,  gold and my pride

And for all that I have gained and I’ve lost
I lay my burden down At  foot of the cross,
Mardi Gras of my memories, have new meaning
For On the everlasting Arms I am leaning

Cuz I know that Heaven’s where my treasure Lies
My higher ground when Levees start to rise
As I look back on the madness of my youth
Make me a warrior for the light and the truth.

When the sadness all around me is storming
for 40 days I shall long for Easter morning
dust to dust, as we rise to holy ground 
on my knees, When Ash Wednesday comes around
© John Lee Sanders, 2012

This Saturday evening you will be headlining the White Rock Blues Society show at the Rhumba Room in the Pacific Inn in South Surrey.  It is being billed as: 

John Lee Sanders can sit in front of a piano and bring the smoke from a Texas BBQ, A New Orleans Street Parade, and the Soul of the Mississippi Delta, all in one set. 

Not simply a sit down concert, this is going to be a full on boogie woogie dance party.  Who will make up your band Saturday night?

Here’s the lineup
JLS, Guitar, Piano, Vocals
Chris Nordquist, Drums
Tim Porter, Guitar
“A-train” Alexander Boynton Jr.  Bass
Steve Hilliam, Tenor Saxophone
Vince Mai, Trumpet

What new projects in addition to the upcoming gospel show in Fort Langley are you working on?

I’ll be performing with Bonnie Raitt, as her opening act on Aug 10, at the Queen Elizabeth Theater in Vancouver,  and Aug. 13, in Calgary.     I’ll be doing the 2nd annual Gospel Blues Christmas in White Rock on Dec 16, as well as a few other venues around BC. 
I’m working on a few different CDs,  one of my more adult contemporary music, 
My music has such a broad fan base, pop, country, jazz gospel, blues, that sometimes I feel that sometimes genres can lock us into a particular box.   I love blues artists, but I’m drawn more to artists who have taken the essence  from those elements and crossed over and become mainstream without sacrificing their integrity as an artists, such as Ray Charles, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton,  and others.   

I’m also doing a solo cd with my good friend, and co-writer, Chris Caswell, from LA,
He’s worked with everyone from , the Muppets, Jason Mraz, Daft Punk, Sarah Vaughn, Cannonball Aderley, to writing a Symphony debut at Carnagie Hall.  

I’m also working on a CD, with a bit of country influence in the blues,  Those 2 genres have so much in common, but the fan base seems a bit divided.  I love songs that tell a story, and it seems that with so much dance music on the charts, the country writers seem much more evolved lyrically, so I would like to pursue that side of the tracks. 
This week I’m working in the studio with Zigaboo Modeliste, king of the funky drums, the most sampled drummer in History,  He’s from a famous New Orleans funk band called the Meters,  who are innovators in the origins of Funk and Hip Hop.  I’m working on a tour of Europe for 2013.  

I’m constantly writing, not so much for a particular project, but just because I love the creative process.  I’m writing an autobiography, a collection of stories, that are pretty interesting.  Having survived cancer, and gaining my voice and life back, I feel that it might be an inspiration to someone out there.   During my cancer treatment and recovery, it was a therapeutic process, since I didn’t feel much like making music, but I love the written word.   

So that’s what’s going on in my world,  Hope to see everyone Saturday night at The Rhumba Room in the Pacific Inn in South Surrey.

Best wishes
John Lee

Times Colonist

Blues player wails at his own pace

Guitarist Jason Buie is back in his native Victoria, still passionate about playing and promoting great music

When singer-guitarist Jason Buie was young, most of his weekends were mapped out well in advance.

Looking back now, the 41-year-old realizes that his advance planning as a youngster led to his life as an artist, one that is now closing in on a quarter-century of professional activity.

"I remember going to Long & McQuade on Saturday afternoons when I was 12 and getting [Juno-nominated guitarist] Bill Johnson to show me licks," Buie recalled.

"As far as blues guitar, he was the only guy around Victoria who played that really well and was accessible. I'd go to Long & McQuade and pick up a lick or two, then I'd head over to Lyle's Place and grab a record or two."

Buie is, for the most part, a self-taught player, the type of rock and blues guitarist whose style is typified by a natural feel for the instrument. Guided by the occasional lesson from Johnson, Buie spent much of his early teens learning to play by ear.

"Kids today have YouTube. They can pretty much figure out anything they want," he said. "It was a little harder back then."

The Victoria native was raised by music-loving parents, one of whom, his father, Bob Buie, performs as the hypnotist Mesmer. The Buie family stereo was always blasting the music of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix; Buie said he was exposed to "the good stuff" early. He was given his first guitar at seven years old, kickstarting what became a longstanding love affair with the instrument.

"I got one for Christmas and started figuring it out on my own. I took a few lessons here and there, but learned primarily from listening to records."

His instincts were such that he could play almost anything with ease. As a result, he was always drawn to the powerhouse players, guitarists who played with both passion and skill.

By the time he was a teenager, he was listening to classic bluesmen like B.B. King, Albert King and Muddy Waters.

"Then I discovered Stevie," Buie said.

In the mid-to late 1980s, the man known as Stevie was incendiary blues wailer Stevie Ray Vaughan, a Texas tornado who raised the bar for blues-rock. Buie was a huge fan, so much so that he emulated Vaughan while in his first band, Held Over, a Texas-toned blues band.

"These bikers in Victoria took out an ad in the Times Colonist wanting a lead guitar player. I was 15 at the time and I called up and auditioned. I told them I was 19 and I got the gig. I wound up playing down at [former Victoria club] the Brass Rail seven nights a week when I was in high school."

Buie was a fixture during his late teens and early 20s at the former Harpo's Cabaret, a Victoria club that was in full swing. Buie recalled watching every blues great from Albert Collins to John Lee Hooker play the venerable Bastion Square club, which inspired him to start his own trio, Electric Mud. Buie's new act wound up playing Harpo's, opening for Buddy Guy, Mick Taylor and Jeff Healey, among others.

Soon after, he moved to Vancouver and put together another band, which eventually toured all over the province playing hardscrabble bars and clubs. Buie and Co. did that for four or five years.

"We were three guys who wanted to play, so our booking agent said, 'OK, here you go' and he gave us all these gigs," Buie said. "I don't think we made much money, but we had fun and were playing all the time.

"There was a certain freedom. The responsibility of life hadn't really set in yet."

Responsibility set in soon enough for Buie, who is currently raising two children on his own.

A band he formed in 1999, one that toured to Saskatchewan on a regular basis and eventually made it to Europe and Japan, led him to his current project, the Jason Buie Band.

In 2007, while living in White Rock, Buie created the White Rock Blues Society with Harp Dog Brown and Rod Dranfield. Before moving back to Victoria last year, Buie and the society had booked and promoted 55 shows over a five-year span, from Juno winners Monkeyjunk to David (Fathead) Newman. He has continued to bring blues bands to town, though he is reluctant to jump into the fray full-time.

"I don't really consider myself a promoter. But when I moved back to Victoria, I thought maybe there was an opportunity to do [a similar thing] over here."

Buie booked four dates for Texas blues musician Ian Moore this week, including stops Saturday in Victoria at the Upstairs Cabaret and Sunday in Nanaimo at Diners Rendezvous. Buie, who is opening all four shows, is doing double-duty as a player and promoter, something he has done a fair bit over the past year.

Buie manages multiple projects at once - he does web graphics part-time, in addition to performing as a hypnotist under the moniker Jason James - but music remains his passion.

He's happy to still be playing shows at 41, and though he is going at his career with the same intensity as he did back in the day, his schedule is a little lighter than it was.

"I have to be a little more selective now. I have two kids on my own, and though my family helps me a lot, and I still play pretty much every weekend, I don't go out and do three-or four-week runs.

"What I do now is fly out for the weekend and hire a rhythm section, which keeps it to two or three nights. That keeps it manageable."

Jason Buie performs with Ian Moore on Saturday in Victoria at the Upstairs Cabaret and on Sunday in Nanaimo at Diners Rendezvous. For more information, visit
© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

The Surrey Now Newspaper

Solo trip to S. Surrey for Montreal's bluesy Browne


Montreal-based multi instrumentalist Michael Jerome Browne performs Saturday, May 5 at South Surrey's Rhumba Room, in another concert hosted by White Rock Blues Society. See story on page 24.

Photograph by: SUBMITTED, for Surrey NOW

When the Now caught up with Michael Jerome Browne on Monday, he was on the phone from Osoyoos after driving from Nelson on his own.

On stage, the Montreal-based multi instrumentalist prefers the spotlight to himself. "For 12 years or more, it's been solo touring for me," he said. "Touring with a band isn't always economically feasible and, to tell the truth, going solo is sometimes better in terms of performance. I can do a lot of things up there (on stage). It's freeing."

After doing a round of "house" concerts as part of the cool Home Routes series in B.C. and Alberta, Browne is making his way here to play the Rhumba Room bar Saturday night, May 5. The concert is another hosted by White Rock Blues Society, whose Rod Dranfield witnessed Browne perform a couple of years ago at the International Blues Challenge event in Memphis, Tennessee. Dranfield was impressed enough to book the Montrealer to perform at the society's gig HQ in South Surrey. Tickets are $20 in advance via 6045015566, or $25 at the door (call 604-542-6515 for more info about the show, which has Surrey's David "Boxcar" Gates opening).

Browne's latest album, The Road is Dark, is more blues-oriented than his previous three CDs, although he's no stranger to the blues - he's just more fond of the term "roots" to describe his music.

For a dozen years, Browne played guitar in the Montreal electric-blues Stephen Barry Band, still going strong without him. Browne went solo in the late-1990s with music infused with Cajun, country-soul, blues and folk sounds, and several awards followed.

Musically influenced by his parents, both English professors who moved to Quebec from South Bend, Indiana, Browne began playing music at the age of nine, on harmonica. The guitar was next, a few years later, followed by banjo, fiddle and other instruments that are either picked, plucked, strummed or played with a bow. He played coffee houses to start; later, he busked for a lot of years, and it helped pay the bills. Today, he's considered one of Montreal's most important roots musicians, and a heck of a player on whatever he chooses to play.

On tour this time around, Browne brought along two guitars (including a 12-string), a banjo, fiddle and harmonica. Some of his set in South Surrey will be done semi-electric.

"The guitar is what I'm most comfortable with," he revealed, "but I go through phases of wanting to play the banjo a lot."

Visit Browne online at


White Rock Sun Newspaper


Off The Record

April 29, 2012


Premier Canadian Roots Artist In Concert

Montreal's MICHAEL JEROME BROWNE has scheduled a stop on his Canadian tour here in White Rock at the Rhumba Room. The latest in a long line of stellar musical events presented by the White Rock Blues Society.

We had the opportunity to talk with MICHAEL prior to Saturday's show. We join the conversation already in progress


Michael let's start at the beginning. After relocating from your birthplace South Bend, Indiana to your adopted home in Montreal, what styles of music were you exposed to at the tender age of 9?

We moved to Montreal when I was one, and my parents listened to everything from Pete Seeger and Joan Baez to Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee and Muddy Waters to Jacques Brel and Barbara... Quite a lot of variety, and a lot of American folk music and blues.

You are a multi - instrumentalist, what is your main instrument and in what order did you add the other instruments into your musical mix?

I started playing harmonica at 9, but my main instrument, the guitar, came at 12, the banjo at 13, the fiddle at 18, and I don't think I picked up a mandolin until I was about 30. I started playing a bit of viola after I was 40.

Something interesting I found when researching your musical career, is it seems reviewers and the industry alike have a hard time classifying your music. Some feel it is more of a folk sound, while others lean towards putting you into a blues bag. How do you describe your music?

I would describe my music as Roots. It's a good way of not putting it in too small a box. My newest CD is pretty blues oriented, so I don't mind wearing the blues hat for a while. The blues is the common thread through everything I play, anything from the Southern U.S. has that element.


Last fall you released your 4th CD titled "The Road Is Dark." What was the inspiration for the title of the CD?

It's the title of one the songs, many of which are rather dark. My partner Bee Markus writes the lyrics and I write the music. A lot of the songs deal with death, and as our parents get older, I guess we start thinking about our own mortality.

The CD is a mixture of largely original songs, but you have delved back into the covers catalogue. What songs by other artists did you choose for inclusion on the CD, and how were they chosen?

Most of the covers are songs I've been doing for awhile which are unusual enough and haven't been covered to death. I was surprised when I noticed that Hugh Laurie (the actor from 'House') put out an album around the same time as mine with a cover of JB Lenoir's 'The Whale Has Swallowed Me'. I thought I was the only one to cover that song! I also didn't realize Morgan Davis had previously done Frankie Lee Simms' 'Married Woman'. 'Doing My Time' is a Flatt & Scruggs tune (written by Jimmie Skinner) that's very much like a blues. 'Death Don't Have No Mercy' by Rev. Gary Davis is pretty well-known, but I performed it in a play in Montreal and people have asked for a recording of it. I think my version is different enough. Frank Stokes' 'Right Now Blues' has a beautiful fiddle melody I've always loved and the closer, Tommy Johnson's 'Morning Prayer', is one of those unusual things, a Delta blues that has a sweet sound.


Where and when did you record the CD? Who else performed on the CD with you?

Most of the album was recorded at Larry O'Malley's Audio Bec studio in Lennoxville, Quebec. Most of those songs are solo, and I'm joined on a few by my old friend John McColgan on washboard. The rest was done at Ross Murray's studio in Chelsea, Quebec, where I brought in some friends from Ottawa: Steve Marriner (harmonica), Mighty Popo (guitar), Michael Ball (fiddle), and Jody Benjamin (guitar).


A few years ago you also created a DVD on how to play slide blues guitar. Originally only available in French, have you now created an English version?

I've printed up a few copies of the English DVD but it's not really available anywhere but at my shows.

Will you have copies of the DVD with you along with CDS for purchase when you perform Saturday at the White Rock Blues Society concert?


You made it into the Semi Finals for the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Was that a special accomplishment given the incredible array of talented artists competing from around the world?

It was an accomplishment just to be selected by the Montreal Blues Society to go to Memphis, and a great thrill to be there. I try not to dwell on the competitive aspects of the music business. I see artists who are very talented not do very well in these things, and others who simply make a lot of noise do well. It has little to do with artistic merit.

It was at the Memphis Blues Challenge this past year that the Director of the White Rock Blues Society ROD DRANFIELD first heard you, and was knocked out. Tell us about that initial meeting?

I met Rod when I did the International Showcase at the beginning of the event. He was impressed and told me I should look him up if I was coming out west, and here I am!

It is a long trip from your home in Montreal to the West Coast. Do you get out to Western Canada very often? When did you last perform in the area?

I try to tour BC and Alberta about once a year. I think I was out here last spring. People in the West seem to have a good appreciation of acoustic music, so it's a good place for me to tour.

Your musical travel across this great nation of Canada have no doubt brought you into contact with many talented performers. Could you give us a couple of names for musicologists to check out, that have turned your head over the years?

One who comes to mind is here in Vancouver. His name is Celso Machado and he plays all kinds of Brazilian music on a huge variety of instruments, and plays traditional African music as well. An incredible one-man show!

Finally Michael tell us what we can expect musically when you perform at The Rhumba Room this Saturday (5)?

I will be performing solo, doing a lot of songs from the new CD and others too. Even though I'm solo it's semi-electric, I'll be playing my Silvertone arch top through a small Fender amp.



April 27, 2012


Rodney Dranfield Director WRBS

Rodney Dranfield travels to Memphis each year for the International Blues Challenge. The White Rock Blues Society for the past number of years has ensured our area is represented. This past year David "Boxcar" Gates flew our blues flag proud and high.

In 2011 Mud Dog competed on behalf of the White Rock Blues Society. It was at the 2011 blues gathering Rod came across the next act the society will be presenting in concert at the Rhumba Room at the Pacific Inn.

Here's the story;

Dave thanks for your interest with this up coming May 5th show. We are excited about hosting this wonderful blues talent.

Michael was sponsored by the Montreal Blues Society for the 2011 International Blues Challenge which took place in Memphis from February 1st to 5th. Because he was sponsored by a Canadian society, my old home town, I made it a point to go see him play at Club 152 3rd floor. This club is across the street from the B.B. King's Club and next to King's Palace. I heard that back in the thirties the upper floor of King's Palace was a photo studio and I was told it was there that the only picture ever taken of Robert Johnson, the iconic blues man who according to legend gave his soul to the devil to play never before heard guitar. With all this history and over 150 blues acts playing the same night on a three block strip of the famed Beale street it was every blues fan's dream.

He was scheduled to play at 8:05 Wednesday evening. Mud Dog, our sponsored duo act was playing at Wet Willies just down the street at 7:30 so by the time I got there the place was full but still clear view of the stage. Artists play a 25 minute set during the competition and I caught his last 10 minutes. I was invited to see the David Rotundo Band playing at 8:30 down the street at the Hard Rock Cafe so knowing I was already late for that I did not stick around to talk to Michael at the time but got his contact information the next day from Brian Slack the President of the Montreal Society and called him.

I say all this to give you an idea what it's like at one of these International Blues Challenge events. You have to plan your night using the detailed program book and watch the clock as you execute your planned schedule of artists to see. Many choose to find one location, get there early, usually for dinner and stay and watch ten acts come to the stage. The venues are offering either all solo/duo acts or bands. As you would expect the band venues are larger, bigger stage and more seats, two of them are theatres.

I told him about us and how we like to put on shows for artists coming through town and that he should let us know when he's planning a west coast tour. He called last October and we set a date that matched his schedule. Usually under these circumstances we would do a mid week show because more often the prime bookings, such as festivals and soft seater venues are on weekends but Michael gave us the option for a Saturday night which we took. This will help with attendance numbers. I have his 2007 released Double CD which has one CD with him playing solo and one with his band.

My appreciation for the blues ranges from the country/delta style of the one man wizard playing and singing it all to the Chicago ensembles letting it rip with the amplifiers wailing. Michael can do it all and with a distinctive voice an style. This is going to be quite a treat. We have invited David "Boxcar" Gates to join us and open things up. This will be a great opportunity for David to meet Michael a like minded spirit.

I'm looking forward to this special event and I trust that blues fans in out neck of the woods coming and see for themselves.

Check out the reviews and you will see I'm not alone in my praise for this man's talent and dedication to the music I love.

*Tomorrow - Michael Jerome Browne himself takes time out from his Cross Canada tour to answer a few questions prior to arriving on the Semiahmoo Peninsula.


The Surrey Now Newspaper

Boxcar's Blues Train Is Bound For Memphis
By Tom Zillich, Surrey Now January 12, 2012 
George Costanza he isn't, because David Gates somehow managed to give himself a nickname - a great one, too, with echoes of the old-school blues for which he's become known.

On stage, the longtime North Surrey resident is "Boxcar," a handle he's used since his teens.

"I used to play pool in the halls around Whalley, at Gateway and Johnny 5's, and at the Flamingo, too, while listening to the bands there," Gates explained. "I used to write the name 'Boxcar' up on the chalkboard - you know, 'Boxcar, you're up' (to play a game of pool). It was my eight-ball name."

Gates' cool brand of Piedmont-style country blues is played with bottleneck slide and alternate finger-picking - a oneman-band approach that sounds like he's simultaneously playing a bass riff, picking his acoustic guitar, singing and, every so often, blowing on a harmonica attached to a rack he made from bicycle and lamp-shade parts.

He went solo-acoustic with the blues about four years ago. "Playing electric guitar in a blues band is fun and all that, but I just wanted to write my own stuff, do my stuff," Gates said. "I like to play my own drum lines, bass lines and everything else in my guitar style, so that kind of conflicts with everyone around me," he added with a laugh.

Influenced by Robert Johnson and other trailblazers of the genre, Gates' blues has turned heads at many joints around town over the past four years, including the Memphis Blues eatery in South Surrey, where he gigs every Wednesday evening.

Ironically, playing the blues in Memphis is what Gates will be doing early next month.

He'll fly to the big International Blues Challenge (Jan. 31 to Feb. 4) as a solo/duo entry, after winning a contest hosted by White Rock Blues Society last October.

To help get him to Memphis, a send-off/ fundraising concert will feature Gates and guests Sunday night (Jan. 15) at Admiral Pub & Grill in Burnaby - the old NBI, on East Hastings. A $25 ticket gets you in for a burger, beer, blues and the thrill of helping a talented guy get to a place he deserves to experience (call 604-298-7158 or visit for show info).

"It's a good opportunity, a big cake with many layers," said Gates about his trip to Tennessee.

"I'm excited - never been there. It's going to be another cool thing to do at (age) 30."

Away from the stage, Gates has worked full-time at a Newton iron foundry since age 17, save for some adventures involving music, travel and, yes, trains.

"I've actually hobo'd a couple of times, and jumped some freight trains," he revealed. "I went hitchhiking across northern B.C. with my acoustic guitar in winter before, when I was 18. And then I lived in Nelson on the street for a while - built a house out of duct tape and cardboard and plastic sheets, and lived out in the mountain like that..

That was neat, but I wouldn't do that now. I was young, and I busked over on Baker Street for a couple of months in 1999. It started to snow the day I left."

As a kid, Gates often carried his guitar over his shoulder, like a hobo with a stick and bag knotted at the end - even before he could play the instrument. "It was part of my identity crisis, I guess," he said. "But it's part of my upbringing, too, because my relatives all played guitar and harmonica and stuff. And listening to early Rolling Stones records and that 1956 juke box with all the 45s in it - that helped."

In Memphis, he'll be up against 80 other solo/duo acts in the Blues Challenge. "I anticipate he'll do very well there," said Rod Dranfield, boss of White Rock Blues Society.

"(Gates) is very genuine, a great entertainer," Dranfield added. "It's not an act, he's not a pretender. He truly loves what he does."

Due out this month is a 14-song CD of music Gates is calling The World is a Train Station. Check for song samples online at

Peace Arch News


‘Boogie’ blues trio returns




One of the White Rock Blues Society’s best-received guest bands is returning for the organization’s 50th show next week.

Ottawa-based MonkeyJunk will be serving up what it calls a “generous helping of swamp rhythm and blues, soul boogie and bedroom funk” Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. at the Rhumba Room, Pacific Inn resort (1160 King George Blvd.).

Steve Marriner (vocals, harmonica, keyboards, guitar), Tony Diteodoro (lead guitar) and Matt Sobb (drums) have only been working together as a band since the spring of 2008, but they’ve already notched up a Blues Music award for best new artist debut, a Canadian Independent Music award for best blues artist and five Maple Blues awards in 2010, as electric act of the year, entertainer of the year, guitar player of the year (Diteodoro), plus vocalist of the year and harmonica player of the year (both for Marriner).

They also made an impressive third-place showing at the International Blues Challenge.

The name derives from a comment made by one of the musicians’ favourite blues artists,  Son House​ (“I’m talkin’ ’bout the blues. I ain’t talkin’ about Monkey Junk”) which stuck with them and seemed to fit their style, which one reviewer has termed a “hot, sticky, greasy, backwoods folk blues sound.”

Even minus a bass player – band members are quick to point out that Hound Dog Taylor didn’t have one either, and  Little Walter​ frequently did without – MonkeyJunk has created a strong reputation for credibility both on disc and in powerhouse, danceable live performances.

Tickets are available at Tapestry Music, Surfside Music, the Pacific Inn or online at

The Surrey Now Newspaper

'Boxcar' Gates off to Memphis for big Blues Challenge

Longtime Whalley-area resident David

Longtime Whalley-area resident David "Boxcar" Gates is winner of a Blues Challenge contest staged by White Rock Blues Society.

Photograph by: submitted, for Surrey NOW

David "Boxcar" Gates is on his way to Memphis, thanks to a big win at a beachside bar in White Rock.

Gates edged other worthy solo/duo acts Oct. 23 during a contest held by White Rock Blues Society to determine its selection for the 2012 International Blues Challenge, a significant event held in the Tennessee city next February.

"I'm really excited and feel like such a lucky guy," said Gates, who grew up in Whalley and still lives in the area.

Gates' brand of Piedmont-style country blues is played with bottleneck slide and alternate finger-picking, usually backed by his homemade harmonica rack, made of bicycle and lamp-shade parts.

With Gates, others on the contest bill at West Beach Bar & Grill were Blue Voodoo duo, Wes Mackey, and The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer.

Judges at the gig were Glen Page (a blues historian), Robbie Keene (owner of Surfside Music and Vintage Guitars) and Glen Pearson (singer-songwriter who hosts many jams around town).

"David will be a great ambassador for the region's blues music community," said blues society boss Rod Dranfield. "We will be conducting a fundraiser in the coming weeks to help cover the costs for David's travels to, and stay in, Memphis. We wish him the very best in his next great musical adventure."

Read more:

Peace Arch News


Blues artist heading south


A Semiahmoo Peninsula musician will represent the White Rock Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis this coming January.

David “Boxcar” Gates, 30, was one of four musicians who performed Sunday night at the West Beach Bar and Grill in White Rock for a panel of judges comprising blues historian Glen Page, retired professional guitarist Robbie Keene and Glen Pearson, a local blues musician.

Gates’ vintage sound – described by WRBS president Rod Dranfield as a trip back to the 1920s and ’30s in Memphis or Mississippi – helped him stand out just enough to win the judges’ favour over Wes Mackey, the Blue Voodoo and the duo, The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer.

“The panel of judges had their work cut out for them,” Dranfield told Peace Arch News this week. “All four blues acts were worthy of the honour.”

Even Gates, who has been working on his music since he was a teenager, is reluctant to call himself the winner.

“No, no, it was not a contest. I can’t stand it being called a contest. Give me a break. There was so much talent in the room,” Gates said. “All of us were hugging, we’re all really happy.”

While in Tennessee, Gates will perform in front of blues lovers and people in the music industry, making contacts and getting exposure – both of which are crucial to a lesser-known artist.

“All the acts get a good bit of opportunity to be seen and to make connections that help in developing their career,” said Dranfield. “Each year they pick the top three bands or artists, but from what I’ve learned, it’s not about winning, or getting the cherry on top of the cake, it’s about the cake.”

Receiving this opportunity is just the most recent layer on Gates’ cake. The last two months have been a whirlwind experience for the musician, who was also featured in a video series created by Jonathan Fluevog – son of the acclaimed shoe designer.

As for the cherry on top, right before being chosen to go to the IBC, Gates’ 59-year-old father, Ed, who was diagnosed with cancer, was given the OK to be released from the hospital.

“He’s my landmark, he’s always supported me and he always said, ‘David, I knew you would do something,’” Gates said. “The last few weeks have been like a dream. I can’t believe it.”

Gates – who grew up in Whalley and got his nickname from his teenage hobby of hopping onto freight trains – said that if anything comes from the festival and he has the funds to do so, he plans to build a homeless shelter in his old neighbourhood.

“If I ever make any money, that’s what I will do. Getting into this band stuff helped me out. I was growing up in a rough neighbourhood, and I was able to break the mold and get to do this,” he said.

For more on the WRBS, go to

The Now Newspaper

'Blues by the Sea' Saturday


The "full spectrum of blues" will be covered during the latest outdoor show at the Semiahmoo Nation bandshell, this Saturday, Aug. 13.

Busy party band Brickhouse headlines the "Blues by the Sea" shindig, co-staged by White Rock Blues Society and Phil Davey's Q Sound. Also on the afternoon/evening bill are the rockabilly-minded Butch Murphy & the Bloody Miracles, blues/ swing vets Harpdog Brown & the Original Bloodhounds, David "Boxcar" Gates and the electric Blues Puppy.

Admission at the gate is $10 (by "donation), or free for kids 13 and under, starting at 2: 30 p.m.

"It's a great chance for kids to hear some great blues," raved the blues society's Rod Dranfield. "This is a first-time effort and if it works out we will do it annually."

For this one, bring lawn chairs, a picnic basket and blanket. Info is online at


Many local young musicians, dancers and comedians will gather at South Surrey's Wheelhouse Theatre Aug. 20 for a Canadian Cancer Society fundraiser dubbed "Talents for a Cure." Those on the bill include Their There, Tommy Alto, Brett McCrady, Adam Olgui, Paula Cooper, Julia Han, Hamza Zain and Samantha Andrews, the event's primary organizer and who is in remission from cancer (acute promyelocytic leukemia). Tickets for the gig are $15/12 via 6046190236 or


Randy Ponzio's reggae-influenced "For the People" won the latest Song Search contest staged by The Shore radio station. The announcement was made Saturday (Aug. 6) during the Celebration of Light fireworks event in Vancouver.

The Province May 2, 2011

 The new blues brothers


Sam and Luke

Where: The Media Club, 695 Cambie St.

When: Friday at 9 p.m.

Tickets: $8

They're young and restless and taken their own route around the Vancouver
music industry, which is why Sam and Luke bear watching.

Sam just turned 20 while his brother, Luke, is 16. Through a combination of
talent searches and naïveté, Sam and Luke are better known on stages in
Nashville, Memphis, San Francisco or Los Angeles than in their White Rock
home, although it must be said that White Rock has supported them. Sam and
Luke have stick handled around Vancouver convention. If the Remedios brothers
are successful, it won't be because they courted the local music biz.

They have made their own opportunities, one of the first of which was
entering and winning the White Rock Blues Society's Roots and Blues Talent
Search in 2008. With their parents' blessings and support -they've bought
them their instruments, hauled their gear, been chaperones to the underage
Luke -the duo has made remarkable progress in an equally remarkable short

Sam and Luke made a pleasant but hardly earthshaking EP, First 4, in 2009
then quickly won a spot opening for Downchild in Nanaimo, at which time they
met Colin Linden, who also was opening for Downchild. A few months later,
they met Linden again, who agreed to produce their first album. Linden, a
solo guitarist, as well as a sideman who has worked for Bruce Cockburn, a
one-time member of the later configuration of The Band and a current member
of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, also had a respectable reputation as a
producer. He had Sam and Luke record last spring in flood-swollen Nashville.

"He's got all his contacts there," explains Luke. "All the musicians he
liked were down there."

"We didn't realized Nashville was flooding," notes Sam.

"Mixed with the tornado warnings, it was really frightening," adds Luke.

With songwriting and trying out different methods in the studio from
separate tracking to playing with a band "live," the recording took two and
a half months. By the time Standing in a Room was completed, Sam and Luke
had rubbed shoulders with Bob Babbitt, an original Motown bassist, and
written with Tom Hambridge, who drummed on the LP and won a Grammy for his
work on Buddy Guy's Living Proof.

It was obvious they weren't fooling around but, in hindsight, not yet
certain of where they were heading.

"It felt really fast once we got to the studio and we got right to
recording," remembers Sam. "It was very organic."

Luke figures that the direction of the album (not pure blues and with an
edge softened by lighter rock) took shape as the brothers were recording.

"I think we're still trying to find our sound," Sam says. "We're learning as
we go along.

"The credibility we earn will come from making good music. As long as we
focus on making better music. We always want to move up."

"Colin said, 'the more records you make, the better the records you'll
make,'" Luke notes.

"That's why we're so serious about it," stresses Sam.

"I don't think I could do anything but music," adds Luke.

© Copyright (c) The Province

The Province Newspaper

Cuba in 1958 was bristling with revolution. Fidel Castro was encamped in the Sierra Maestra Mountains directing his guerrilla takeover of the country with his band of rebels, Che Guevara included.

By the end of the year Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista would board a plane full of cash and his closest family and cronies and fly to the Dominican Republic as crowds of looters wandered the city, breaking into the American mob-owned casinos and making off with whatever they could.

Into all that year’s chaos one Carlos del Junco was born in Havana and, as Castro marched on Santiago de Cuba to the south, was almost immediately flown out with his family to staid, grey and decidedly peaceful Toronto. He’s been back to Cuba once, in 1991, but otherwise grew up Canadian as snow.

In a big turning point of del Junco’s own, one day at 14 he was listening to a friend play harmonica and artfully bend a sweet, bluesy note. Young Carlos thought it was the coolest damned thing he’d ever heard and there and then was snared. It was on to learning from the masters.

“First record I bought was Paul Butterfield,” says del Junco. “The very first Paul Butterfield Blues Band, which I still think is the best playing that he did. Innovative. Then Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williams but I wasn’t as much into the traditional guys. At the same time growing up listening to blues records I was also into progressive rock and jazz/rock fusion. I had pretty eclectic tastes and I think it’s really carried over into what I put on my records.”

And the live show.

Backed by his trio — Eric St. Laurent on guitar, Henry Heillig on bass and drummer Mark Mariash — del Junco plays blues style only about half the set list, about half the show with vocals and the other half instrumentals.

He’s renowned for his amazingly pure, controlled tone and has been asked a million times what he thinks of the Bob Dylan/Neil Young method of screeching harmonica playing. Not too much.

“Those are the guys that have given the instrument a bad name,” says del Junco. “And the only reason I say that, brilliant songwriters that they are, is that those are the guys you hear on the radio. You never really hear harmonica as a featured instrument, there’s a stigma that it’s not a serious, lead instrument.”

That, plus everybody thinks they can play a harp. Hell, all you do is blow. It’s a thinking man’s kazoo.

In fact, playing harmonica correctly is surprisingly technical and difficult, using the tongue, over blowing, over drawing, bending. Del Junco plays your regular 10-hole diatonic harmonica — he carries about 30 on stage — and manages to finesse three octaves out of any one of them. “Old McDonald” this ain’t.

“But ultimately it comes down to music that sounds good, right?”


The Now Newspaper

Red Deer Express

Harpdog Brown marking milestone in a big way



Few have tackled the smoky magic of the blues quite like Harpdog Brown.

The engaging, accomplished and Lacombe-based musician (singer and harmonica player) is throwing a birthday party Jan. 29 at Wild Bill’s.

He’s turning 49 (that’s seven in dog years he’s quick to point out) and he’s promising a night of rollicking tunes with his bandmates the Bloodhounds. Rounding out the band are pianist Graham Guest, ‘Charlie’ Ben Sure on guitar, Kenny Chalmers on tubs and Chris Chris Brzezicki on bass.

“It will be over the top, no doubt,” he laughs during a recent chat.

Brown has been carving out his own musical niche for decades now, and was pretty much born for life on the road. “Even as a toddler, I was always venturing off somewhere,” he says, recalling his childhood in Edmonton, his hometown.

He also started playing instruments before he even really knew what they were. As a youngster, his mom would plunk him down with a lap steel guitar and he would come up with all kinds of stuff. That curiosity and attraction to creating only grew stronger as the years passed.

In his late teens he landed his first gig as a guitarist with a singer. The guys would open for comedians, and although it wasn’t exactly where his heart was it was during times like this Brown really began to see his ability to connect with audiences.

Next up he joined a rock band which further solidified his love for touring. Although things were hardly glamorous to start with. Brown remembers an early gig up in Fairview, and how the guys wound up in a less-than-stellar motel room with a mattress on the floor and a clothes hanger on the TV acting as a makeshift antenna.

“I thought, it’s only going to get better,” he says with a chuckle.

And it did. Brown eventually settled into the genre that would truly fit – the blues. It’s heartfelt nature, rife with honesty and gritty authenticity, is what has been so compelling to him over the years.

“It’s all about the truth.”

Finding music was and is his key way to express what he’s about. “Before blues was labeled the blues, it was known as black folk music – it was the music of the people.

“Blues is the ideal vehicle for the message of life.”

These days, he’s been teaming up with the aforementioned Graham Guest for the bulk of his shows. As to the birthday bash, he’s also excited to be hitting the stage with the Bloodhounds for the complete sonic experience.

And yes, it’s going to be an explosive show – a special one for a meaningful day. “It’s my last year before I join the ‘50’ club,” he laughs.

But really, when you’re lucky enough to be doing what you love to do, getting the chance to perform is a gift in itself. The gratitude in this man’s voice is unmistakable. “Every day is a special day.”

Cost for the show is $10 per person. There is also a special rate at the hotel for out-of-town guests. For more information, check out

Peace Arch Newspaper

Janis Warren

Black Press

Last summer, at around 4 a.m. on Aug. 28, Steve Sainas came home after a gig at the Yale Hotel in Vancouver, sat down in front of the computer and read.

The White Rock Blues Society had sent out an email, asking blues musicians around the province to enter a talent search in October.

Sainas, fine arts department head at Port Coquitlam’s Terry Fox Secondary, compiled some information about his band, Mud Dog, and pressed send.

A month and a half later, on Oct. 17, Sainas and harmonica player Christopher Allen were on stage at the Rhumba Room of the Pacific Inn, competing against six other shortlisted acts – including White Rock-South Surrey luminaries Kathy Frank and James Shepherd – for the showdown title in the society’s Solo/Duo Blues Challenge.

Winner would represent B.C. and Canada at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn., which happens Feb. 1 to 5. Last year, the event was won by a Canadian, a first.

Mud Dog played four original Delta Blues songs – Three Good Reasons, Step Into The Light, Gastown Blues and Train – and won rave reviews.

Trouble was, they were three minutes and 10 seconds over the limit and the judges knocked off a point for every 10 seconds they went over their allotted time.

Sainas and Allen didn’t know about the regulation so, as the featured band from Seattle – Becki Sue and her Big Rockin’ Daddies – performed during the next two hours, they fretted about the penalties.

Then lead singer Becki Sue spoke to the crowd. “Is Mud Dog in the house?” she asked. “You guys are going to Memphis!”

Mud Dog had won the competition by a single point. They would be joined in Memphis by Peninsula favourites Sam and Luke, already chosen by the society to carry the flag in the youth category.

Sainas was overjoyed. But he and Allen soon decided they had to make the most of their time in the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll and the blues. 

They contacted a representative from the legendary Sun Studios and booked a time to record some tracks. And, as luck would have it, they managed to get four hours the night before the 27th annual festival starts, with engineer/producer Matt Ross-Spang at the controls. (Ross-Spang worked on John Mellencamp’s No Better Than This album in 2009).

Sainas said they plan to lay down 11 songs – an ambitious task, to be sure.

“If we do it in one take each, just like we do it live, then it can be done,” the Coquitlam resident said. “But if we have difficulty getting that stage energy in the studio then it could be hard. Sometimes, you get into the studio and it just rolls but sometimes you are chopping wood and it takes everything out of you.”

Still, Sainas is no stranger to cutting tracks.

Twelve years ago, he met a mentor named Donn Tarris, a folk/rock musician who was doing open mic at the now-defunct Johnny’s Place. Sainas was temporarily filling in for the regular act at the Port Moody eatery, plucking up enough courage to perform solo, when the two struck up a friendship. At that time, Sainas was an English and special education teacher at Fox, struggling to make ends meet: He had a young family, his wife was out of work and budget cuts loomed for the special ed. department.

Tired and frustrated, Sainas found solace in his nighttime gigs, and Tarris offered to help by showing him how to record music. One day, Tarris invited Sainas over to his home, plugged in a couple of microphones and hooked them up to his Mac Book G3.

Sainas liked the results and started tinkering around. The next year, Sainas felt he had enough confidence to pitch a new department at Fox called digital recording arts “and that was the beginning of what I’m doing now,” he said. “I look back and think, ‘What would have happened if Donn hadn’t tugged my arm and said, try this?’”

Today, Sainas’ recording arts and Rock School programs are among the most popular courses at Fox, with some Grade 9 to 12 students taking them more than once a year (his Grade 9 son and Grade 11 daughter are also involved).

He sometimes puts his recording arts classes on “auto pilot,” giving them the independence and ability to work on their projects, using Mac Logic Studio software, at their own speed because “in this business, you need to be able to do it yourself. That’s how you get ahead,” Sainas said, noting he recorded half of Mud Dog’s 2003 CD, titled Devil’s Road, in the Fox studio.

During his trip to Memphis — what he calls “professional development” — Sainas plans to document the sights and sounds for his students so they, too, can get a feel of the history of The River City.

The fact that he’s heading there seems surreal. “It’s a dream come true,” he said. 

But he’s been too busy to think about it, juggling his teaching duties, Mud Dog gigs, coming to terms with the loss last week of his good friend, Fox football coach Carey Lapa, and the three Rock the Fox shows, put on by his Rock School students.

It doesn’t faze him that he’s competing against 82 other solo/duo acts from around the world, nor that he’s playing in venues on the iconic Beale Street in Memphis.

Rather, he’s nervous about the details of the trip: the safety of his beloved Dobro guitar on the plane, the cleanliness of the hotel.

And he’s concentrating on the set, the same winning one that Mud Dog played at the Rhumba Room three months ago. 

“This time,” he promised, “we won’t go over the time limit.”

• The Mud Dog in Memphis fundraiser takes place Jan. 26 from 9 p.m. to 1:15 a.m. at the Yale Hotel (1300 Granville St., Vancouver). Admission is $10 at the door and includes performances by Fandangozz (a ZZ Top tribute band) and popular Peninsula band Blue Voodoo.

The Now Newspaper


White Rock-ing brothers Sam & Luke Remedios had an amazing experience performing live on the Shore 104 FM station last week, an event that served to kick-start a U.S. tour in support of the album Standing in a Room. DJ Jody Vance heard and loved the boys when they played the Blues For Christmas charity gig at the Commodore Ballroom last month, spreading the gospel via the radio waves.

Sam & Luke's stateside tour starts in Memphis, where they will represent Canada at the International Blues Challenge Youth Showcase (under 21 years), the siblings told me. "Then we're off to Nashville for a show at the world-famous Bluebird Cafe and another at the Bunganut Bistro in Franklin (near Nashville)."

Heading back to Memphis, the guitar-slinging singers will then play Huey's Midtown, a well-known Southern-music venue.

"By mid-February, we'll be up in northern California appearing at Sacramento's hot spot, Marilyn's on K. Plus we've got a show booked at Red Rock, a very cool coffee house in the San Francisco Bay area.... We close out the tour in Los Angeles, where we're booked at Whisky A Go Go, Trip Nightclub, The Cat Club and the infamous Viper Room."

Considering the names of places on the tour itinerary, the talented teens are "totally stoked and looking forward to an absolutely killer tour!"

Follow Sam & Luke's progress -- on tour, and otherwise -- on their Facebook page.

- Speaking of the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis early next month, Mud Dog is representing White Rock Blues Society at the event. To get there, the duo is playing a "Memphis Fundraiser" concert Wednesday, Jan. 26 at The Yale bar in Vancouver, with guests Fandangozz (yes, a tribute to ZZ Top) and The Blue Voodoo. Tickets are $10, a fee that will include an emailed MP3 song file from Mud Dog's recording session at famed Sun Studio. Sounds pretty cool.

Surrey Now Newspaper

Alto sings for charity

Tommy Alto (aka Tom Vander Kam) sure can make his acoustic guitar ring while singing up a storm. The local high-schooler was a highlight of last Saturday's fun Toy Jam, a Jason Buie-organized gig at Crescent Beach Legion that collected close to 100 toys for kids in need.

The following night, the annual Yuletide Blues benefit concert staged by White Rock Blues Society raised $2,040 and 467 pounds of food for the food bank operated by the local Sources organization. Nice.

Surrey Now Newspaper

FEAR NOT, FATHEAD IS HERE Fathead is considered one of the best blues bands working Canadian tundra these days, so it's a big deal for White Rock Blues Society to book the Toronto-based band for a Saturday-nighter (May 1) at Pacific Inn's Rhumba Room bar. The gig probably wouldn't have happened here without some luck of the logistical kind, reports the society's Rod Dranfield. "Because Fathead are in B.C. to play at a festival (in Harrison Hot Springs, among other places), we were approached by their management to see if we could put on a show," Dranfield told me. "Over the past three years, we (the blues society) have garnered a solid reputation back east, and the word is out that we can deliver.... As you can no doubt appreciate, there would be no way we could fly (Fathead) in ourselves." It's a similar tag-along scenario for the society's Friday, June 4 show at the same venue, featuring L.A. blues-harmonica veteran James Harman. The five guys of Fathead, meanwhile, are on a high following the spring release of Where's The Blues Taking Me, which could give the band even more attention from the Juno Awards caretakers next year. The band's sound has evolved over the past couple of decades to include straight-up blues, '50s-framed rock 'n' roll, funk, gospel and even some cabaret-style soul. "We rarely play a song the same way twice, so we kind of keep our crowds guessing," Fathead bandleader Al Lerman told me this week. In this quintet, Lerman plays harmonica, tenor sax and vocally backs up lead singer John Mays. Original guitarist Teddy Leonard last year returned to the fold, with Omar Tunoch on bass and drummer Bucky Berger. Tickets are $25 at the door for Fathead's dance party Saturday at the Rhumba Room, 1160 King George Blvd. Call 604-542-6515 for info, or browse

White Rock Sun

It is called the “music business.” Music & Business a convergence that if done correctly can almost certainly guarantee musical success. Most people though have a CD they tirelessly try to turn their friends on to, because no one seemingly heard of the artist or the band. The usual suspect for such failure is the lack of “business” associated with “the music.” Meet White Rock’s BLUES BROTHERS Jason Buie & Rod Dranfield. A perfect example of each other’s talents complementing the other. Sometimes like an old couple that has been together for years, Rod & Jason seamlessly finish each other’s sentences. The beginning of the White Rock Blues Society stretches back to late 1999/2000. “I was living in Vancouver on the east side and I got my first introduction to White Rock when I started playing at Iguanas on the beach” says Jason Buie. “I met Rodney when I started gigging out here, and what impressed me was he was so passionate about music. We started kicking around the idea of setting up a Blues Society and before we knew it, the White Rock Blues Society was formed it has now been a reality for over a year.” Rodney Dranfiield with an extensive business marketing background takes care of the business but is quick to point out why the situation works so well “I think a real key for the quick success of our blues society is the fact, Jason is on the Board of Directors. Having an artist with the talent of Jason immediately gave us credibility in the music community.” Rewinding to their first show brings back fond memories for Jason & Rodney. “Our very first show was May 17, 2007 at the now defunct Camp Kwomais in Ocean Park” says Dranfield “Jason and Harp Dog played on a Wednesday evening. We served coffee and cookies and popcorn and the place was packed.” Jason chimes in with a funny anecdote about the show “ An article appeared in the local paper and they mentioned it was coffee and cookies, no alcohol and as a result of it people thought we were in recovery and as a result we got a couple of gigs at rehab centres.” The stories pour out of Dranfield and Buie as they with great recall list the numerous shows the White Rock Blues Society has created over the past 18 months locally. The conversation though quickly jumps from the past to the present. “We have the second annual Yuletide Blues show this Sunday at The Rhumba Room in the Aston Pacific Hotel” says Buie. “The lineup this year is incredible.” Local musicians BLUE VOODOO, SAM & LUKE, LEANNE COLEMAN, MUD DOG, MUD BAY BLUES BAND, ELLIE JOHNSON the late addition JERRY DOUCETTE and Vancouver’s JOHNNY FERREIRA. The show will be hosted by JASON BUIE and his house band of Mark, Brian & Zig will supply back up for some of the artists appearing. The music begins around 5 o’clock this Sunday and lord knows when it will end. The whole event is in support of the Peace Arch Community Services Food Bank. “There will be $15 admission charge and we are asking everyone to bring two healthy non-perishable items for the food bank” says Dranfield. “Last year we collected over 500 pounds of food for the food bank. We also have an anonymous donor who has funded the show so unlike a lot of other so called benefits, every cent raised will go directly to the food bank.” Representatives from the food bank will be on hand helping to collect the food and ensuring the show is a great time for everyone. Dranfield and Buie have set the show in such a manner, anyone wishing to support the food bank and digging some great music, it will be possible to drop in at any point for a couple of hours and hear some incredible music. Yuletide Blues – 2nd Annual Christmas Blues Benefit. Helping to ensure some of our neighbours don’t have a blue Christmas. Let those guitars ring!

Peace Arch Newspaper

The Scene Fathead Tickets are available now for a show by Canada’s blues “all-star team,” Fathead, which comes to the Rhumba Room at the Pacific Inn, 1160 King George Blvd., May 1 at 8 p.m. in a CD release party show presented by the White Rock Blues Society. Featuring John Mays (lead vocals), Al Lerman (harp, tenor sax, vocals), Teddy Leonard (guitar, vocals), Omar Tunnoch (bass, vocals) and Bucky Berger, drums, percussion, vocals), Fathead has just released a much-anticipated follow-up to the Juno award-winning Building Full Of Blues. Where’s The Blues Taking Me? takes the band’s sound to a new level with the group’s most fully-realized recording to date, produced by B3 master Lance Anderson. Stories woven into song by the band’s long-time tunesmiths Lerman and Tunnoch, soul-baring vocals, sterling musicianship and superior production values highlight Fathead’s constantly-evolving sound, which encompasses everything from straight-up blues, to R & B, ’50s-style rock ‘n’ roll, funk, gospel and even torch/cabaret-style soul and blues. The Pacific Inn gig is a welcome stop-off during extensive touring in support of the current album, giving local audiences a chance to hear a stellar Canadian band in their own backyard. For tickets ($20 advance, $25 at the door) and information, call 604-542-6515.

Jazz Elements

Fundraising Event Helps Group Attend Maple Blues Awards The White Rock Blues Society is presenting a fundraiser on Monday, Jan 1 at the Yale Hotel in support of blues band The Twisters, who’ll use the proceeds to cover travel costs they’ll incur getting to a couple of prestigious gigs. The Twisters, who are five-time nominees for the 2010 Maple Blues Awards, will head for Toronto to participate in and perform for the annual awards ceremony on January 18th. The group is slated to perform during the 13th annual gala event at Koerner Hall. From Ontario the group heads for Tennessee, where they’ll attend the International Blues Challenge Jan 20-23 in Memphis. The Twisters are David “Hurricane” Hoerl (vocals, harmonica), Brandon “Yukon Slim” Isaak (guitar, vocals), Keith Picot (bass) and Chip Hart (drums). Admission to the quartet’s show at the Yale is $10, 7:30 p.m. for more info visit

Peace Arch News

Beat Goes On For Blues Musician Lloyd Jones plays the Rhumba Room June 20. Published: June 11, 2009 12:00 PM Updated: June 11, 2009 12:03 PM When singer and blues guitarist Lloyd Jones was leading Brown Sugar, most popular blues band in Portland, Ore. in the early `70s, he had the opportunity to work with many of the touring blues greats. One of them, S.P. Leary – who had worked with Muddy Waters and was playing drums with Big Walter Horton at the time – leaned over to Jones as he was about to leave town and confided in the younger musician. “Man,” he said, “I’m getting old. You gotta keep it alive. It’s a struggle sometimes, but if you love it, you keep on struggling.” Leary’s words have been adopted as a mantra by the versatile Jones, who bills his current band The Lloyd Jones Struggle. The band will make its Semiahmoo Peninsula debut June 20, 8 p.m. at the Rhumba Room (Pacific Inn), 1160 King George Hwy., featuring sidemen Mike Klobas (drums), Willie Barber (bass), Glen Holstrom (keys), Robbie Jordon (tenor and baritone sax) and Terry Townson (trumpet). Jones, who describes his music as “storytelling with a Memphis groove,” was born in Seattle to a musical family which moved to Portland soon afterward. He grew up hearing his father’s Dixieland jazz records and being taught to play drums by his older brother, also a musician, who took his sibling to band rehearsals and started him playing gigs at the tender age of 13. Before he graduated high school, he had seen, and been mesmerized, by such artists as James Brown, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. After starting Brown Sugar, Jones was privileged to work with such musicians as Charlie Musselwhite, George ‘Harmonica’ Smith, the Johnny Otis Show and Big Mama Thornton. “That’s how we learned, and that’s really when I first picked up the guitar,” he recalled. “A lot of times these people would stay at our homes and teach us music and history. Some of them have passed, now, so I cherish those memories.” Over the years, Jones also played with such legendary figures as Albert Collins, Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, Dr. John, John Hammond, Etta James and Junior Wells; and even his earlier idols Guy and King. In the `80s he joined former Cray singer and harp-player Curtis Salgado in a band named In Yo’ Face. Tickets ($25 in advance, $30 at the door) are available from 604-542-6515, Tapestry Music, North Bluff Music and the Pacific Inn.

Surrey Now Newspaper

Monday » April 27 » 2009 Blown away by the blues Tom Zillich Surrey Now Friday, April 24, 2009 Rod Dranfield, a co-founder of the White Rock Blues Society, responds to Tom Zillich's 10 questions: WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CONCERT-GOING EXPERIENCE? "Summer of 1966 in Dorval, Quebec, a local promoter by the name of Donald K. Donald brought in The Shadows Of Night, who had a major hit with Van Morrison's 'Gloria.' There were a couple thousand people, all standing and cheering. The crowd encouraged them to play the song three times that night.... I realized nothing beats the real thing, live music. I think it was the only hit they ever had. Someone recently posted the tune on YouTube with a picture of the album cover. I still own the album." WHEN DID YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH BLUES MUSIC? "In the summer of 1968 I attended an evening outdoor concert. The Paul Butterfield Band opened the show for James Cotton. I and my buddy Norm were taken by the music, as were the thousands in attendance. Everyone was dancing up a storm.... Montreal fans have always had a soft spot for the blues. I was hooked on the sound of the harp (harmonica) after that, and migrated to Slim Harpo and Jimmy Reed. Lately, it's been Charlie Musselwhite, John Lee Williamson and Watermelon Slim." WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE ERA OF THE BLUES? "The man that really turned my ear to the blues Texas-style was Johnny Winter. Our university student council booked Johnny into Place des Arts for our winter carnival. What a night. Johnny was guitar-dueling with Rick Derringer all night. I was captivated by the energy coming from the stage -- all that talent and incredible sound. The 3,000 audience members' response was deafening. Suddenly, blues was front and centre, with my generation's spin and energy added. But where was all this music coming from? Who was Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf? No one was telling us the history; there was no internet, no books and no first-hand information, but there was Rolling Stone magazine and its interviews with the likes of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, who referred to the original blues greats. They kept telling us to listen to the originators, the creators of the blues and to go to their shows, buy their records and experience what excited them when they first heard the music, on records carried into the U.K. by merchant seaman or purchased in France, where the first European blues records were produced. God bless the French for their early appreciation and passion for the blues in the 1950s; they helped stimulate the British music invasion." WITH THE SOCIETY, WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE GIG SO FAR? "It's hard for me to pick one because I enjoyed each one so much for what they bring to the audience. I have but one measure of success: How many people are on the dance floor? We've had some amazing players perform for us. The 20-year-old Hank Shreve from Eugene, Oregon, was mesmerizing on the harp and vocals earlier this month at our first International Harmonica Showcase.... It was his first international gig, (on) our humble stage, and he really appreciated the response he received from the audience." WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE RHUMBA ROOM THAT MAKES IT WORK AS THE SOCIETY'S HOME BAR/CONCERT VENUE? "It has the biggest dance floor in White Rock/South Surrey and our blues fans love to dance. It also has a Yale Hotel feel to it, long bar down the left side, some elevated seating at the back, elbow room for 250 people and it is attached to the Pacific Inn Hotel, which has two restaurants and reasonably priced rooms. We have people coming from Chilliwack, the North Shore and as far as Seattle, so they like to get a room for the night. Eric Steiner, the president of the Washington Blues Society, came up for a show in support of our society and he promotes our events below the 49th parallel." DO YOU EVER GET THE ITCH TO GET UP THERE AND JAM WITH THE MUSICIANS? "Yes, but fortunately I know my limits as a harp player and reserve such behaviour for local blues jams and house parties. I have yet to play on the Rhumba Room stage. I do get a kick out of shooting some video of each show and have about 35 videos up on YouTube." Finish this sentence: I'd rather stick a tuning fork in my ear than listen to... "Rap music, and more than one Bluegrass tune." WHAT'S THE MOST RECENT CD YOU BOUGHT (OR DOWNLOADED)? "Floyd Jones' Trouble Monkey, from 1995, because he and his six-piece band are coming to town in June and I was told this was his breakthrough album. I always like to hear the bands we are booking, to become familiar with their sound." CAN YOU DESCRIBE TROUBLE MONKEY HERE, IN 10 WORDS OR LESS? "Driving, dancing beat, mellow ballads, clear vocals and a story to tell about love and life, because the blues, as Willie Dixon said, 'are the facts of life put to music'." WHAT'S NEXT ON THE CALENDAR FOR WHITE ROCK BLUES SOCIETY? "In Memphis, I was a proud Canadian watching MonkeyJunk, from Ottawa, perform as one of the final 10 bands in the 25th Annual International Blues Challenge at the famed Orpheum Theatre on Front Street, one block from B.B. King's club on Beale Street.... The band plays the Rhumba Room on Friday, May 22 (and they) will blow you away." © Surrey Now 2009 Close Copyright © 2009 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved. CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

Peace Arch News

Blues musician has impressive resume By Alex Browne - Peace Arch News Published: December 20, 2008 10:00 AM Updated: December 22, 2008 6:50 AM A master of blues bass is heading to the Semiahmoo Peninsula. Russell Jackson and his band will headline the last dance/show of the year for the White Rock Blues Society at the Rhumba Room, 1160 King George Hwy., Saturday Dec. 27 at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. The stage will also be shared by local legends, The Mud Bay Blues Band, who are currently celebrating their 30th year as a group. The evening follows up the society’s successful second annual Yuletide Blues Benefit bash at the Rhumba Room, which raised $3,755 for Peace Arch Community Services Food Bank. That gig also included The Mud Bay Blues Band, along with such luminaries as Jerry Doucette, Johnny Ferreira, Mud Dog and such local performers as Jason Buie, artistic director of the society’s program, Leanne Coleman, Blue Voodoo, Yukon Slim, Glen Pearson, Sam & Luke, David ‘Boxcar’ Gates, Ellie Johnson and the James Shepherd Band. The next show should gain added sizzle from the presence of Vancouver-based Jackson, who describes his music as “honouring the tradition of the blues with a contemporary twist.” Equally adept at both electric and acoustic (stand up) bass, Jackson has been known for years as a monster player who can stir up any room with his slap-string style, powerful sense of rhythm and innate showmanship. His history is inextricably linked with one of the all-time blues greats, guitarist B.B. King. In 1979, at the age of only 25, Jackson was invited to join King’s orchestra. He stayed for the next seven years, absorbing a thorough education in both the substance and style of the blues, as well as playing on two of King’s albums. Born in Memphis, Tenn., Jackson did most of his growing up in Wichita, Kan. With relatively little formal musical education, but plenty of playing experience, he had already acquired a strong reputation as a bassist by the time he got the call to join King. But after leaving King in 1986, Jackson knew he wanted to develop his knowledge and technique even further. He was admitted to the prestigious Dick Grove School of Music in Los Angeles, where he studied both electric and acoustic bass with world-renowned tutor Joel DiBartlo. In 1987, he became part of famed rhythm section Silent Partners, and wrote the title track on their critically acclaimed debut album, If It’s All Night, It’s All Right, released on the Antones label in 1989. Jackson has also toured and recorded as a sideman with such blues greats as Charlie Muselwhite, Katie Webster, Matt Murphy, Kenny Neal and Roy Gaines, Luther Tucker, Frankie Lee and Long John Baldry. After he left Silent Partners in 1990, Jackson relocated to Vancouver where he formed his own band. In 1994, it recorded its debut album, The Alley Man, on the StoneBluz label, and in 1996, it was featured in the music video Show Me The Door, which received heavy play on the Bravo! network in the U.S. and Canada. Jackson has also continued to compose, refining his own distinct brand of blues that was showcased on his album Becoming The Blues. His band continues to tour across North America. Current band members include drummer Ivan Duben Jr. and guitarist James Rogers. His list of musical heroes includes B.B. King, Willie Dixon, Major Holley, Ray Brown, Marcus Miller, Jerry Jemmott, James Jamieson and Larry Graham. Jackson can be seen in the YouTube videos Kenny Wayne at the Yale featuring Russell Jackson, and Gangster Of Love - Russell Jackson Chicago Blues Festival 2007 on tour.

Surrey Now Newspaper

Events generate cash and food for charity Surrey Now Published: Friday, December 12, 2008 Sunday's second annual Yuletide Blues benefit in South Surrey raised $3,755 in cash and 701 pounds of food for charity. The White Rock Blues Society-hosted event was organized to give a hand to the Peace Arch Community Services (PACS) food bank. Jerry Doucette, Johnny Ferreira and many others played to a packed house at the Pacific Inn hotel's Rhumba Room, "Jason Buie did a masterful job putting on the greatest blues shows in the history of White Rock/South Surrey," raved the blues society's Rod Dranfield. "Many thanks to Anthony Intas, a driving force in promoting this wonderful community event. Congratulations to Ruth Chitty and her band of volunteers for handling the door and donations. A warm thanks to all the musicians who donated their talents and time to make the evening a resounding success."

Jazz Elements

November 7, 2008 White Rock Blues Society Presents Jerry Doucette Written by cindy mcleod Jerry Doucette Saturday, November 8 Rhumba Room White Rock, BC Doucette set to rock Rhumba Room The White Rock Blues Society presents Canadian guitar great Jerry Doucette on Saturday, November 8th at The Rhumba Room in White Rock. Doucette will be backed for the performance by The Jason Buie Band, with Marko Ibara (drums), Brian Scott (bass) and Sig (keyboards). Opening the show is Mud Dog with Steve Sainus and Christopher Allen. Vancouver based guitarist and composer Jerry Doucette is described as one of Canada’s most influential and under-rated performers. Over the last thirty-plus years he has carved his name in the music industry as a pop-rock giant. Best known for his monumental hit record Mama Let Him Play (1977), which saw him touring North America opening for the likes of Bob Welch and Meatloaf, Doucette has gone on to release a handful of records that showcase his guitar prowess and a keen pop sense, as well as doing session work with the likes of Aldo Nova and Prism, and live performances opening for the likes of The Atlanta Rhythm Section, The Doobie Brothers and The Beach Boys. Ongoing legal battles over control of Doucette’s music were finally laid to rest in the early ’90’s and he re-emerged from the experience with the Price of an Education (1995). His most recent release is his Vintage CDRom featuring a collection of 17 of his best tunes re-mastered, 3 live cuts, and a rare audio interview accompanied by a slide show featuring over 60 photos, promotional items, billboard charts and more. for more info visit