Colin James pays tribute to his idols on latest album

Colin James performs two shows in Nanaimo as part of his Blue Highways tour.

Colin James stops in Nanaimo for two performances during his Blue Highways Tour. He performs March 6 and 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Colin James stops in Nanaimo for two performances during his Blue Highways Tour. He performs March 6 and 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Blue Highways is an album Colin James has wanted to create for years.

The musician is known for his mix of styles – combining rock, swing, blues and other genres.

“I’ve always had a mix of who I am right from the get-go,” said James. “As a result I was never totally considered as a blues artist.”

But blues music has always been a part of who he is, said the musician, adding he has wanted to create an album like Blues Highways, but there was push-back from producers who wanted something else they considered more commercially sellable.

Blue Highways pays tribute to some of James’s idols including Howlin’ Wolf, Freddie King, William Bell and others. The album has been getting a considerable amount of radio play.

“This is the first time really in my life I ended up on the blues charts,” said James.

The singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer combines some familiar classic blues songs, some obscure and some with a bit of a country spin on them. James said he kept his guitar playing really clean on the album.

James grew up in Regina.

“I was just immersed in music from the age of three or four,” said James. “I grew up in a house that always had music on.”

He started playing clubs when he was about 18 years old.

“All my life I have been a musician,” said James.

Now James is a multi-award-winning musician. He’s won six Juno Awards, 17 Maple Blues Awards, and was inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame and the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

He performs in Nanaimo during his Blue Highways Tour on Monday and Thursday (March 6 and 9) at 7:30 p.m. He performs at Victoria’s Royal Theatre on March 7.

Performing onstage changes from night to night for the musician.

“On the best of nights you’re kind of sitting in the pocket of your buzz onstage … on the worst nights you are self-conscious and anxious,” he said.

In the near future, James is hoping to expand his audience in England and Europe.

“I got myself an agent in England, now that is really exciting. I think he is going to do great things,” he said.

James said in the early ’90s he opened for Robert Plant in England, but he just never went back and is looking forward to building an audience overseas.

“There is a big blues audience around the world,” he said.

Tickets for the Nanaimo show are $73.75 available in advance by calling 250-754-8550 or visit www.porttheatre.com.

For more information on James, please go to www.colinjames.com.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com

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