Hard-working blues band learned from the top Dawg

Ever wonder how local blues legend Poppa Dawg got the name Poppa Dawg?

Ross Neilsen and The Sufferin’ Bastards

Ross Neilsen and The Sufferin’ Bastards

Ever wonder how local blues legend Poppa Dawg got the name Poppa Dawg?

The guy who lays claim to tagging him with the stage name is coming to town to tell the tale.

This weekend the Blue Gator will be hopping with the hard-working, hard-playing sounds of Ross Neilsen & The Sufferin’ Bastards.

“Rick (Poppa Dawg) was good to me both as a human being and a musician,” said Neilsen this week.

Originally from the Maritimes, the blues enthusiast was travelling the country in his 20s and wound up spending a couple of years in Kelowna where he met Poppa Dawg (Rick Halisheff) and got a taste of the work ethic needed to make it in the business.

Six Canadian tours later with The Sufferin’ Bastards and it’s clear Neilsen took the message to heart.

He prides himself on worth ethic, says the band takes downtime mid-winter, but he keeps plugging away doing solo shows and catching up on the administrative side of managing the band.

He met the band’s bass player, Shawn Worden, 15 years ago at a party and said the pair managed to wrangle drummer Karl Gans back out onto the road while working on some recording with him.

Gans’s parents live in Westbank, so the trio have some must-do stops while in Kelowna, including Cecil’s Perogies where the Capital News caught with them.

As for why a hard-working, good-natured sounding guy like Neilsen wound up playing the blues, that’s a similar story to most of the musicians who haunt the Blue Gators of this country.

“It seems kind of real compared to the pop songs you hear on the radio,” he said. “It’s really about day to day existence and living and breathing.”

That said, there’s a little more quirk to this crew’s tunes than one might suspect from the sounds of their own descriptions. Their last recording, Redemption, wasn’t exactly pounded out in a local pool hall.

All three made the trek to Northern Mississippi where they hit up a Zebra Ranch that famed musician and producer Jim Dickinson used as his studio. Cody Dickinson (Norhtern Mississippi Allstars) actually did the producing as Jim unfortunately passed away before the band arrived—though his family made sure there was never any question the recording would be made.

All the band had to do was find the money as Canadian grant funding was not an option once they had decided to record on American soil.

The down-to-earth crew went back to basics with a good old fashioned bottle drive to raise the necessary funds, drumming up more than a little interest in their home province of New Brunswick. It seems the thought of blues musicians finding hope in at the bottom of a bottle struck a chord with the music fans of Fredericton and the results will be enjoyed by much of the country as the Sufferin’ Bastards hit the road this season.

Ross Neilsen and The Sufferin Bastards play the Blue Gator Friday, June 24 and Saturday June 25.





Kelowna Capital News