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