Women and blues to shape New Glasgow Saturday

Amanda Jess
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NEW GLASGOW – The Full Circle Blues Band may be new, but none of the five members are new to the blues.

The five-piece Pictou County band played their first gig in January at the Captain’s Helm Crow’s Nest, and are now preparing for a show with genre-transcending gem Kim Wempe in New Glasgow this weekend for Women’s Blues Night.

“It’s great to have an opportunity to represent women in blues,” Annette Drapeau said.

Drapeau grew up on the island of potatoes, physically leaving when she was 19, but she was never able to put the East Coast behind her.

She moved west, landed in Ontario for many years, before finding her passion in the blues later in life. 

The East Coast started calling her back, and she answered.

It didn’t take her long to get a reputation as a blues singer. After hearing her in Halifax, she was tracked down by Dutch Mason’s longtime bassist.

When Phisch Fancy calls and asks if you want a band, you say yes.

That’s exactly what Drapeau, vocalist for the Full Circle Blues Band, did.

“I was kind of taken back,” she said.

It took a few weeks, but Fancy got back to Drapeau with the news that he had found three Pictou County musicians to make up the rest of the band: John Muirhead on drums, Pat MacFarlane on the keyboard and Hilton Reddick on the guitar.

“To be playing with musicians that are so seasoned, it’s an honour,” Drapeau said of the band Fancy built.

They all have years of experience in music with a strong passion for blues. Sharing the joy in the genre is key, Drapeau said.

“That’s when the magic happens.”

After picking up the phone call from Fancy in April, the band got together for their first practice in August and had their debut on Jan. 25 to a full house, thanks to the help of the Pictou County Blues Society, Drapeau said.

“They’re wonderful people to support the blues,” she said, adding that the East Coast Blues Society was also influential in bringing people to New Glasgow from Halifax.

They made an impression, picking up a St. Patrick’s Day show the next day, and already have plans to go back to Crow’s Nest for another matinee show on May 10.

“We all live local and get to do what we love to do in our own backyard.”

The local band won’t be the only lovers of the blues on the stage.

Wempe may have been born in Saskatchewan, but her voice hails from the deep south.

She grew up on Susan Tedeschi and Bonnie Raitt, and absorbing those childhood influences.

“The power behind their voices, the strength and the grit – I’ve always loved that,” Wempe said. “With a gritty, husky voice myself, I was inspired by what I could do with it.”

The sound has always come very naturally to her, surprising her at times.

She has worked with Charlie A’Court, and found herself instantly picking up on harmonies with him, whereas in folk, she had to work on it.  

Her latest album, “Coalition,” is tinged with roots, blues, pop and gospel. The Glasgow Square show is just one of her East Coast gigs this spring, promoting the 2013 album, after taking it to Australia and back.

Fresh off two ECMA full-band showcases and a reunion of sorts with Atlantic musicians, she’s ready to dive into a longer version in a theatre setting.

Wempe and the Full Circle Blues Band take the stage at Glasgow Square on Saturday at 8 p.m. as part of the Music Shapes New Glasgow series.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

 

Amanda.jess@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda 

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