Rick Keene Music Scene – Colin James ‘Returns’ Home

Ya think you know somebody …

For many of the audience attending Colin James’ show at the Montreal Jazz Festival – the fact that Colin once lived in Montreal for a year and a half, came as a surprise.

James recanted the tales of living in Lachine and Verdun and busking in the Metros. He also told stories of many gigs in this city. Places such as Bourbon Street North and West along with The Club Sodas (among others). If the audience were not already in love with Colin – they were now. In a weird way, the prodigal son returned home at Place des Arts.

James is on tour right now following his recent win for Blues Album of the Year at this year’s Junos. Miles To Go is the name of the disc and if Colin wants to achieve longevity – The Blues may be the road to travel. Sadly – even though James has put out record after record of solid Rock / Pop albums, classic Rock stations (or any radio station for that matter), refuse to play new music by classic Rock / Pop guys. Colin and his mates rolled out all of his genres last night. Take that Classic Rock radio !

Joined by Canada’s best harmonica player Steve Marriner (Monkey Junk, Harry Manx) both on disc and live – Colin and his band parlayed a vast catalog along with some new / old covers into a solid set. A wall of sound engulfed Place des Arts with piercing guitars and piercing horns. The combination of the two; a two punch bordering on a Rock show.

Five Long Years and Why’d You Lie reminded the older folks of a different time in music. A time when Blues joined Pop. Eighties music in all it’s glory. It Takes Time, One More Mile and Soul of a Man reminded folks of what most of them missed before they were born. The set-list was a perfect combination of the blending of different styles of Blues and how essential the sound is to success in any era.

James’ return to the Jazz Festival came full circle as the Jazz Festival was one of Colin’s first gigs thirty years.

James appears to be in transition mode as he decides which route to travel in his career. Colin has always been some sort of a chameleon that way. Stopping at the Rock door, the Blues door and the Big band door. What we witnessed last night was a vagrant James with no welcome mat at any door. The show had all the earmarks of a show yet somehow, there was a feeling that James can do better. Somehow – Colin will reemerge shortly with a new found love of a different sound.

Perhaps a move to Montreal, the most vibrant place for music in Canada would help? Why not? Colin’s twenty one year old son is going to Concordia. A trip by Colin via Metro to visit him (with guitar in hand) may do the trick for Colin.

Visit Colin Here !

Rick Keene Music Scene – Colin James Talks Blues and A Juno Nomination

In 1989, Colin James had ‘Miles to Go’ in his career.

Kieth Richards and Colin James – 1994

Colin was given the Juno Award for Most Promising Male Artist. It was the same year that Back to the Future Two was released and Game Boy was one of the most popular toys on the market. Colin, the film and the (then) technologically advanced toy were all signs that life was changing.

Colin and B.B. King

The beginning of the 90’s saw more and more money going into the pockets of the businessmen. Artists, filmmakers and inventors had their souls sucked into commercial abysses. Blues artists – men like Buddy Guy and B.B. King (the forefathers of the music that laid the frame for all popular music) were pushed aside.

Thankfully – Canada came to the rescue with two guys who kept the Blues alive on a commercially successful stage. Jeff Healey and Colin James.

Since Jeff left for that grand stage in the sky, Colin remains as one of the last Canadian Blues men. A man who has seen the best and the worst of a music world within a long and storied career. Colin James knows The Blues and with his 2019 Juno nominated album Miles To Go – he has come full circle. Finally gaining the recognition he deserves as a profound Blues artist.

Please listen below to my chat with Colin about the upcoming Junos, his thoughts on The Blues and hear some tracks from his Juno nominated album Miles To Go.

Visit Colin Here

From B.B King to Keef – An ‘Acoustic’ Chat with Colin James …

Saskatchewan – born Colin James has lived a dreamy life …

So far – Stevie Ray Vaughan, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana and Buddy Guy are just a few of the guitar players Colin has had the opportunity to play or hang out with.


Not bad for a young guy who hoped to be able to ‘just see these guys live’ …

Or – for that matter, ‘just travel outside of Saskatchewan.’


Please listen below to Colin’s thoughts on many topics including B.B King, his latest album and playing Ping Pong with The Rolling Stones.




Visit Colin Here!


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Colin James in Concert











Colin and I - PreShow

Suddenly – it was 1988.

Just like that, Colin James transported a mostly middle-aged audience to the days when mortgages were something their parents understood …

It was as effortless for the current British Columbian native as his guitar playing. Times may have changed yet James remains the same – physically and musically.

” It’s great to be back in Montreal!” Shouted James a quarter a way into his ‘Jazz All Year Round ‘ concert at Metropolis. “Unfortunately we are leaving right after the show so there will be no running up and down the mountain for me …! Which is what I do!”

With those words, an audience which to that point was undecided – broke down the barrier of uncertainty the way a first kiss would do on a first date …

There’s nothing fancy about a Colin James show. Straight bluesy rock n’ roll supplied by a backing band standard by blues standards. Bass, drums,keyboards and sax. Oh and guitars which delegate the ebbs and flows appropriately.

Interweaving old and new songs – James is all business in concert. No endless banter, no jumping into the audience – no frills … Just hard edged guitar solos performed by a man who has performed in every situation and with almost every guitar legend. It shows …

“Ok guys, let’s keep it simple!”James stated to his band moments before they hit the stage. It was a planned huddle which will take place practically five nights a week for the next little while.

Says James;

” We are awfully busy these days …, not much time to do anything for ourselves. It’s run, run, run right now …”

From new songs such as ‘Fool for You’ off his latest album; Fifteen, to older ones – ‘Five Long Years’ and ‘Why’d You Lie’, James delivers them all the same. Improbable vocals untarnished by sucess. Improbable vocals tarnished by the love of music …

The highlight of the night in most people’s views was a version of the classic Van Morrison song -‘Into the Mystic’. Hard to say if the song is that good or if James’ rendition catches fire. Somewhere in the middle lies the truth.

Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’ was a lowpoint. A standard non -creative guitar riff afraid to go on its own. Lennon was a rhythm player and James could outduel the former Beatle easily. Instead – Colin stays true to the original on disc and unfortunately, in concert as well.

A new track from his latest disc, ‘I Need You Bad’, was played too early in the show. A gut wrenching riff was introduced to an audience just sitting after filling their cups. A tune which should have been played near the end or as an encore …

A performer should leave the audience wanting more. Not departing on a wanton note.

James is a young man. The future is ahead of him while the past burns brightly in the corridors of Canadian rock history. That is the message the forty seven year old should push. That is the message Colin James, a disciple of Stevie Ray Vaughn, did not.

Hence the lack of youngsters in the crowd.