Depending on which side of the porch the wind is blowing – the Blues or Country music is the foundation of everything taped or played live on the airwaves these days.
Ray Charles and Chuck Berry – two builders who were successful in both genres. To single them out from the likes of Big Mama Thornton and Sister Rosetta Tharpe would be criminal. To extract Charles and Chuck from Johnny Cash, Wanda Jackson and Sonny Boy Williamson – an insult to Elmore James and George Jones. Muddy Waters would be rolling in his grave and disrupting Hank Williams’ dreams.
Like sports or any milieu – to gravitate towards and eventually decide ‘the best’ at any position or genre is as ridiculous as choosing the best flavor of ice cream at the local shoppe. All flavors are part of a big picture which delights the senses and kicks Paxil straight into the garbage.
Serotonin requires more than one taste to function highly and without bias.
In Quebec (which is essentially a very small pond in the world known as The Blues), there swims several small species of small and big fish. Some bright, others as dark and mysterious as the mud in which they lie. Depending on luck, financing and hard work (or lack thereof), some rise to the top rightfully (wrongly) or sink to the depths wrongly (rightfully).
Like most communities (the Blues are a school), politics can also be embedded into the success or downfall of an artist. Like any community – cliques are formed and a tight security rope forms to keep ‘outsiders’ out and insiders rich with gigs.
Organizations where revenue rules work in this mysterious way. Society (sadly) does not toss many branches or accolades to the people who have talent and integrity. Egos tend to get in the way …
As mentioned above – to single out artists as the best is preposterous. To single out artists as ‘some of the best’ – perfectly sane and just.
So – who are ‘ some of the best Blues‘ Artists in Quebec ? Let’s see – shall we?
Does the name Whisky Legs mean anything ? With one EP and a full album to their credit ( Basement Confessions – 2015), the group is led by Maude Brochu.
Schooled in R&B, Soul, Rock and The Blues – Brochu is the quintessential female Blues singer. Combining vocal sex appeal within a vast range of abilities, Brochu is what most great female singers were before fame strikes them into believing their own press. A little Amy Winehouse, a little Joplin but mostly Maude – this Quebec city songstress is the best kept secret touring non stop into the hearts of Canadians.
The Blues is particular. Not quite Rock and not quite Roll – the genre requires force, softness and space. Breathing the rythyms is the most important element to sing the sacred serum.
Martin Goyette is the man who has learned quick and fast. Two albums into a career which could see him eventually replace Gerry Boulet ( Offenbach ), Goyette is a student of the Blues. His powerful vocals can raise hair or stroke them into submission. His next album should be his best – three is a charm.
There are so many Blues’ guitarists in Quebec, this category is difficult to narrow down into the top twenty let alone one.
Blues guitar has lost it’s soul in the last twenty years. Sadly – ‘shredding’ has mirrored society with its ‘bling’ mentality. Flash and speed has widely been accepted as great and the beacon to judge the players performance and talent. Too many notes has replaced the signature of all Blues; space.
Except for Jordan Officer.
Jordan is a true student of The Blues and does not wish to alter the style. The former guitarist with Susie Arioli is digging deeper and deeper to obtain ‘perfection’ as he returns to his love of the Blues. Officer could care less about any Blues’ guitarist post 1980. His Blues’ mentors built the genre and he has every intention of duplicating their notes and style into his own music. No flash – no bling. Officer reeks of Blues integrity …
Originallyfrom Ontario – the transplanted French based Breen LeBoeuf nails this category hands down.
The former member of Offenbach has forgotten more than any bass player in Quebec has learned. To witness Breen’s ease at laying down lines at any pace or style is magic. On top of everything – he also can lay claim to one of the best voices in Quebec as well. Catch him when you can!
Hit the snare, hit the high-hat, hit the bass drum , keep time – repeat.
Seemingly – playing drums in the Blues’ genre is easy. Not complicated like fills and rolls in Jazz , Prog Rock or Heavy Metal. ‘Blues drummers can do it in their sleep’ – that’s the folly on the street.
Like every instrument in the Blues – spacing of the rhythm is ‘instrumental’ to perfection. The notes or beats ‘ not played’ are the keys to the fastest highway.
Although known as a ‘Rock’ drummer, Jerry Mercer of April Wine fame may also be the King of The Blues drummers.
As a teenager – Mercer studied Mitch Mitchell from atop the catwalk at the Maurice Richard Arena. He started playing drums after hearing Ray Charles ‘ ‘What I’d Say ‘ on the radio because it had swing.
After stints with The Triangle and Mashmakhan – Mercer played with Roy Buchanan ( Clapton called him the best Blues guitarist of all time). Singled out to play the Blues with the cream of the crop? Yes sir.
Rarely do the Blues arrive in a Mercer live performance. When they do ?