Nanaimo bluesman Whitey Somers’s latest record started off with a poem.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted Somers’s 40-year music career, and late 2020 he wrote a poem about what it’s been like “all of a sudden having it just pulled out from under us – the whole industry.” He said that poem became the foundation of his new album, The Call of the Blues, and inspired the title track, which is currently a semifinalist in the international Unsigned Only Music Competition.
“It’s heartfelt. It’s an honest song. It tells it like it is for a lot of people in the industry who’ve basically been put on a shelf,” Somers said.
On Aug. 7, Somers is holding a CD release concert for The Call of the Blues at the Queen’s. He’ll be joined by band mates Nick Dokter on drums, Todd Sacerty on bass and Nico Rhodes on keyboards. Somers said the album covers a mix of styles, including traditional blues, blues rock and even “some funky stuff.”
Aside from Somers’s regular band, the album also features Protection Island slide guitarist David Essig, harmonica by Mike Mallon of the South Island Rhythm Kings and keyboard by J.D. Stiles, a Texas-based musician Somers knows from his time in Ontario.
“Many years ago we played together and I just thought his flavour would be really nice on this one song,” Somers said. “So I contacted him I said, ‘Hey buddy, send me some tracks.’”
Somers said he was performing “sporadically” during the pandemic, including some live-streamed shows, and as soon the Queen’s reopened in June he said his band was one of the first to get onstage. He said getting to perform again is “phenomenal.”
“I didn’t like performing behind Plexiglas or anything like that. To me it’s soul-sucking. It takes away from your interaction with the audience…” Somers said. “It’s my natural state, as it were, to be in front of an audience performing and getting that feedback and bringing joy to people.”
WHAT’S ON … The Call Of The Blues CD release show at the Queen’s, 34 Victoria Cres., on Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. Tickets $20. Limited seating. For reservations contact Diane at firstname.lastname@example.org or text 250 889-9860.