Over the weekend I got the opportunity to see one of my guitar heroes, Colin James, perform here in Buttkick at the Regina Ex aka Buffalo Days.
Colin James (Munn) was born in and grew up in Regina. I remember catching him a few times when he was still in his teens playing house parties or with his first blues band The Hoodoo Men. He already had that something even way back then. And of course there was witnessing his big break of opening for Stevie Ray Vaughan in 1984 and then being asked to join SRV on stage. This clip is from '89 but the admiration James still had for his mentor and idol is pretty evident.
A star was born...soon afterwards Munn became James and he was off to conquer the rock/pop world, eventually settling in Vancouver. I actually tried to convince him, or his management at least, to play the Guitarman in my first TV movie...but he was riding a hot streak at the time and out of our price range, unfortunately. Feldman!!
James always circled around the potential of being a big break-out pop star in the vein of Bryan Adams, and though he hit big early on after he signed with Virgin, he never ever hit huge...and I, for one, was kinda grateful. It meant he's kept playing the blues all these years...which is where he seems right at home and certainly most comfortable. He performs his 'hits' perfunctorily, but burns up the blues like nobody else, certainly in Canada at least.
That said I hadn't seen James live in nearly two decades, so I was truly excited to watch the man play now as opposed to the boy of so long ago...though the boy still sure can play. His mastery of the guitar shone bright, but there was a quiet confidence and maturity evident in his vocals and working of the crowd...an artist and musician on top of his game. Supported by a wickedly tight backup band complete with horn section, the show was an energetic set of soul blues rock interspersed with a generous helping of some of his better known singles: Five Long Years, Just Came Back, Why Do You Lie, Voodoo Thing, and Van Morrison's Into The Mystic. It was a nice overview of his career as bluesman and pop/rock artist (including even some of his jump/swing big band tunes (I Will Be There) courtesy The Little Big Band sessions), but to be honest I wasn't there just to hear the 'hits', I was there to hear his guitar sing...
All and all a great show and a pleasure to watch the boy now turned man sing his soulful heart out whilst making his six string wail. He has a new CD out in the fall and I look forward to hearing it. But my fav memory of Munn/James is still from the Muddy Waters show I saw in 1982, which I wrote about back HERE while relating fav concert moments ever. When Waters left his his stool and made his way into the audience, Munn/James was the first out of his seat and dancing in the aisle...even though the signs at the door strictly prohibited standing, much less shaking ones tail feather. Munn/James got everyone on their feet (with a little help from the Mudman of course)...and witnessing that youthful unbridled enthusiasm for the blues that's still clearly evident in James' playing today...that was a moment I'll always treasure.
PS Also need to shoutout at local boy Jason Plumb (formerly of The Waltons) and his band The Willing who opened for James. Plumb showcased his still silky smooth voice and stellar songwriting with his customary modesty while ploughing through tunes from his new CD 'Wide Open Music' as well as sparkling renditions of Starlight Starbright, Protest Song, and of course, Satellite.
A real talent and one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.