jazz & blues music blog with news, reviews, concerts & more, with a Canadian focus

July 9, 2005

Shades of Blues

Written by
cindy mcleod

Billy Joe Green
Billy Joe Green
*photo by Debby Sereda

Canadian blues music reflects the diversity of our nation in it’s sounds and styles, just as it varies from the Delta to Chicago in the States. It is as dynamic and different as the voices of the people, yet there is an undeniable stamp of individuality in our collective musical nation.

One of the great performances of the Kaos Blues festival was by Billy Joe Green, who was born of the Ojibway nation in northern Ontario and now resides in Winnipeg. Billy Joe leads a trio that burns up the stage, they warmed us all in the chilly Calgary air. Many people had purchased festival tickets just to hear him, others were on their way home only to stop, turn around and listen to this captivating trio.

Indefinable sound notwithstanding, Billy Joe rocks the house with his fiery brand of blues, a gutsy, layered sound that defies categorization. There are influences one can detect, from Stevie Ray Vaughn to Jeff Beck, but Billy Joe has cooked them all into a delicious blues stew, one reviewer calls him the “Shaman of the Blues”.

One of the most delightful men I’ve ever encountered, Billy Joe is a very accessible musician on and off the stage. To illustrate, I had a couple of volunteers who’d signed on for the festival just to see his performance. Commuting from Siksika nation southeast of Calgary, this area was one of the areas hardest hit by the recent floods, but that didn’t deter these two dedicated volunteers. Billy Joe’s performance was on Saturday night, but we were all very pleased to see the band arrive early Sunday morning for a coffee before they hit the road for the long drive back to Winnipeg. They told me they “just couldn’t leave Calgary” as they had such a good time and felt so at home. It was at that time that I told Billy Joe about these committed volunteers, and upon hearing the story, the whole band immediately jumped in my golf cart and we went in search of them, the trio intent on a photo shoot and handshakes all around. Sadly the ladies hadn’t yet arrived, but the band stayed for over an hour hoping to meet them.

We look forward to a return performance Billy Joe, and hope it won’t be a whole year before we have the supreme pleasure of hearing you live again. Calgary loves you!

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.