The Central Okanagan loves the blues.
Not even two weeks after ticket sales were announced for the third Winter Blues Festival at Creekside Theatre, the event was sold out.
Vancouver’s Harpdog Brown with the Uptown Blues Band is bringing a unique New Orleans twist to the mix for Jan. 19.
His recently released single, Reefer Lovin’ Woman, came out in time for recreational cannabis legalization in Canada and will be a part of his fifth studio album, For Love and Money, which is set to be released in April.
The 56-year-old singer said the intention behind the song wasn’t about legalization, as it was written in 2016, but more just on a report of his life.
When he met up with Billy Joe Abbott, now his clarinet and alto sax player, and Skye Lambourne, on slide trombone, he found the perfect sound for the song, which he previously disliked on the recording.
Well known for his classic electric blues sound paired with the harmonica, the New Orleans vibe with horns is a new venture for Brown.
“They inspired me to do something I’ve always wanted to do…based on what I’ve surrounded myself with is the (musical) direction I’ve always wanted to go,” he said.
The mid-1950s style was what originally drew the award-winning harmonica player to music, and his first blues band was formed in 1982.
While he has family ties to New Orleans, he has yet to visit the city.
“I’m a foster child and an adopted child…when my mother found me, we met in 1991, and she informed me that I’m a third generation from New Orleans on her side, but I’ve never been,” he said.
“It’s definitely on the to-do list.”
Being the foster child in Edmonton made him feel like he never fit in, so as a wanderer, he found the blues.
“Music gave me that vehicle to run my own circus. When I was a kid…Edmonton back in the ‘70s and ‘80s was a cultural melting pot. They were bringing up some great Chicago blues.
“I saw James Cotton when I was 17 years old, and I always wanted to play the harmonica, but when I saw Cotton in (the ‘70s) he blew my mind and there was no turning back. I blame James, I could have been an account or a welder or something,” he said.
Brown has won three Maple Blues Awards for Harmonica Player of the Year, the Fraser Valley Music Award, three Western Canadian Music Awards nominations, a Juno nomination and is the only Canadian to win the coveted Muddy Award.
For more information about Brown, visit http://www.harpdogbrown.com/epk/.
Lake Country cultural and development coordinator Ryan Donn said no other event sells out this quickly in the district, which he said may be because of the style of the event, which has multiple stages along with drinks and dinner provided.
“It’s like a choose your own adventure for a concert, which is why I think people enjoy it,” Donn said.