Shrimp Daddy and the Sharpshooters to play in Westville

Amanda Jess
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WESTVILLE – Mike Reid sees a similarity between blues and gospel in that they’re both from the heart.

Mike Reid came to the Halifax area for a more relaxed lifestyle this past summer. He’s been booked at many venues across the city with his new band mates since the move. 

Reid, front man for Shrimp Daddy and the Sharpshooters, has always found himself drawn to the charismatic genre.

“There’s no BS about it.”

He’ll be bringing his love for the simple, but effective sounds of blues to Pictou County when he plays in Westville later this month.

Reid’s parents brought him up around the sounds of the accordion and folk music, which he says has a lot of the same aspects of blues.

He remembers listening to Sweet Home Chicago and the Blues Brothers when he was younger.

He didn’t begin playing until he moved to Toronto in 2001.

His name came together during a jam he used to host in North York in 2002. Someone wanted to book him and the other men he played with for the Taste of Danforth festival, but they’d need a name.

“A young lady shouted out, ‘you should call yourself Shrimp Daddy and the Sharpshooters.’”

It stuck. 

Reid and his wife moved from the Toronto scene earlier this summer. They came to the Halifax area in June 2013 on a bit of a whim.

After a show at Fredericton’s Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, Reid fell in love with the Maritimes.

He discovered there weren’t many opportunities for full-time work outside the music business for him and his wife, so he decided to try Halifax.

“We took our chances. We didn’t have any expectations.”

After crashing at friends’ houses for a few weeks, they finally settled on a home beside the ocean in Eastern Passage.

His attempt to live a more relaxed life has been going swimmingly, he says.

He hasn’t had the chance to do too many shows yet as they arrived too late to get involved in the summer festivals.

The couple concentrated on finding full-time jobs outside the music scene for a while.

Now that they’re both settled, Reid has been able to perform with his band at several venues in Halifax including Your Father’s Mustache and Bearly’s House of Blues.

From what he’s seen so far, he says the blues scene in the Maritimes is great.

He moved from the Toronto area, where there’s a higher volume of artists and venues, but he feels like he’s striking a better deal here.

Although there may be less blues musicians, there’s no shortage of talent, Reid says. There’s also more support for artists.

“People go a long way to help,” he says of Halifax.

He notes this may be because they don’t have as many musicians that need support as larger cities do.

Reid also found it easier to get a band together when he moved to the east coast. In the past, he was working with musicians who would often switch between bands if there was a lull between gigs.

“I could never pin together a band to get really tight,” he says.

He often had to sub players in.

The group of men he’s working with now are very dedicated.

“I’m proud of the band I’ve put together,” he says.

Before Reid moved to the Maritimes, he had plans to record music with guitarist Carter Chaplin.

After he made the decision to come here, the band came together very easily.

They took on Barry Cooke on vocals and keyboards, despite Reid’s initial hesitation against a keyboard player.

They didn’t have a bass player, and Reid wasn’t sure they should add keys without that

However, he says Cooke is so good at providing both the bass line and the piano that it’s like having two people.

It helps that they formed an instant friendship as well.

They brought Ainslie Jardine in for drums. All three members of the Sharpshooters played with Dutch Mason, as well as other blues legends, leaving Reid feeling very comfortable with their level of experience.

He plans to record with them in the future, but for now, they’ve got a few gigs lined up.

The Pictou County Blues Society is bringing them to the Whitetail Pub and Grill in Westville on Jan. 18. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door.

The chosen charity for the show is Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pictou County.

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda 

Organizations: Blues Brothers, House of Blues, Pictou County Blues Society Big Brothers Big Sisters

Geographic location: Westville, Halifax, Toronto Pictou County North York Fredericton Eastern Passage

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