Blues fans would likely be horrified to think that Harpdog Brown started out emulating the Rolling Stones.
“I was a Stones fan,” says the Edmonton musician, “so I guess I was a fan of the original punks in rock.”
Brown was born in 1962, the year the Stones’ first album came out. Fascinated with their sound, he did a little research and discovered their first album was blues to the core. “There was one original Stones song and all the rest were blues covers,” he said.
“That shocked me into falling deep in love with the depth of the blues. The blues stole me from the Stones.”
Brown brings his blues show to the Rainbow Room in Port Alberni this Thursday, Sept. 20 along with Brandon Isaak, also known as Yukon Slim.
Brown grew up in a musical family—his mother played a lap steel guitar he called a “wee-wah” when he was a toddler. And although his mother tried to dissuade him from choosing music as a career, he began performing in 1981 and hasn’t looked back.
Brown has shared the stage with such greats as Matt (Guitar) Murphy, Pinetop Perkins, Tim Williams, Kenny (Blues Boss) Wayne, the Powder Blue Band and more.
Brown doesn’t hold much water when it comes to awards—his was the only Canadian band to win the American Muddy Award in 1994, and he won a Canadian Juno Award in 1995—but there is one he is proud of. In 2012 his latest recording, Naturally, was voted No. 1 Canadian Blues Album by the Blind Lemon Blues survey.
Brown is also proud of his association with Yukon Slim, who is a musician in his own right.
Slim is one of the most sought after roots guitar players in the country. Critics say his affinity for the rawness and spontaneity of the blues is second to none. But he’s got an acoustic schtick that makes his sound so much more rounded.
“When I was sitting there watching Brandon play by himself, I could swear I could hear a whole band,” Brown says of a recent performance.
Tickets for Harpdog Brown and Yukon Slim are $10 in advance (at Rainbow Lanes) and $15 at the door. Doors open at 8 p.m. and show times are 9:15 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. The Rainbow Room is located at 3752 Fourth Avenue.