Canadian bluesman spins tales on Open Road

Open Road by Colin James

I’ve been listening to Colin James since 2016, which makes me a late bloomer.

The Canadian rocking bluesman will release his 20th studio album on November 5, 2021 via Stony Plain Records.

The CD opens with a cool cover of Tony Joe White’s “As the Crow Flies.”

“We did the first session right after we got off the road on the last tour,” James said, “which, I think, was my favorite tour I’ve ever been on.” In addition to taking the band coast-to-coast across Canada, the tour found James playing a wide range of venues in the US. “We got a lot of traction there recently, and, after 30 years-or-whatever it’s been of touring, I just felt so happy and grateful to have this band out on the road,” he adds.

Open Road is the third in a trilogy of records, a natural follow up to the 2018 JUNO Award-winning Miles To Go, an album that garnered worldwide attention as it debuted on the Billboard Blues Chart, the iTunes Blues Chart, and added six new Maple Blues Awards to Colin’s running total of 27.

“Those two records, in a way they’re almost straight blues, and through them we found a new audience, especially in America. They also had a fair number of covers; some of them reimagined versions of songs I’ve known since I was 12 or 13 years old. So, on Open Road I wanted to try and stay true to that kind of blues, but also to show some growth,” James said.

Other covers include “Can’t You See What You’re Doing To Me,” by Albert King; “It Takes Time,” by Otis Rush; “Bad Boy,” by John Lee Hooker and a real organ workout supplied by Simon Kendall on “I Love You More Words Can Say,” by Booker T. Jones and Eddie Floyd.

If you love to seek out new really good music — Colin James is your destination.

Here’s some folks he’s worked with which will give you a good feeling for the sound you’ll experience — Bonnie Raitt, Albert Collins, Pops Staples, Robert Cray, Albert King, Keith Richards, Lenny Kravitz, ZZ Top, Mavis Staples, Luther Allison, Roomful of Blues, Bobby King and Terry Evans, John Hammond Jr., The Chieftains, Carlos Santana, Little Feat, Johnny Hallyday, Jeff Healey and Buddy Guy.

His songs have been covered by Maria Muldaur, Lucinda Williams and Johnny Hallyday.

Not convinced — back in the day, the act who should have opened for Stevie Ray Vaughan didn’t show. Colin took the job. He’s been following the path Vaughan set out for him that night when Stevie Ray told him, “I’m opening doors for you –walk through them.”

As I said earlier, I’ve been a fan since 2016, but he’s been making great music since his debut in 1988.

That was the fastest-selling album in Canadian history, winning him his first of now-seven JUNOs, and an opening spot on tour with Keith Richards.

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