Where will the next generation of blues players find their inspiration? It’s a question about the source of music, as much as it is about the music itself.
When Jake Chisholm was a kid in lower mainland B.C., his taste in music was developed by two primary influences: his father’s record collection and the public library.
I spoke to Chisholm, now based in Toronto, as he was on the verge of releasing his first solo disc, Diamond in a Coalmine, hitting the street on April 11.
Listen to some sample tracks from Jake Chisholm's Diamond in a Coalmine.
Chisholm vividly recalls that his discovery of blues was aided by the intrigue of the album covers.
“I ended up going to the public library on a rainy day,” he says. “I didn’t take out any books. I borrowed a stack of vinyl. In that stack of vinyl was a Delta blues guitarist compilation, a Muddy Waters record, I think probably a Johnny Winter record. I was maybe 10 or 11 and I probably picked it up because it had a guy with a cool guitar on the cover.”
Chisholm, who used to be the leader of Jake and the Blue Midnights, has made an indelible mark on the Toronto blues scene as a talented guitar player and bandleader, and also as a session player with the cream of the crop: Paul Reddick, Julian Fauth, Raoul Bhaneja and Jerome Godboo, to name a few. Such innovators and “blues pioneers,” as he calls them, have also been an influence on Chisholm. Originality is important. To that end, of the nine tracks on Diamond in a Coalmine, only two are covers.
(Courtesy of Jake Chisholm)
“I was always on a steady diet of classic rock,” says Chisholm. This is evident in the blues-rock sound of thie new disc. “I was really into the British invasion guys and the way they were interpreting the blues.” Chisholm credits his father’s record collection for those initial discoveries. “My dad had a cool old stereo. He had all the Who, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, stuff like that.”
As Chisholm told of his experiences finding the blues, we began to consider the difference between a kid in a library in 1985 and a kid with the internet today.
“Your choices were very limited,” he says, reflecting on his childhood. “Because you had to seek things out, there was a fair amount of serendipity as to what you stumble upon.”
Let’s just hope that CBC Music is helping to facilitate those serendipitous discoveries for the blues players of tomorrow.