Harpdog Brown


albums w/ jackets & lyrics
Toronto’s Cats Can Fly were originally formed in 1982, your typical bar band covering whatever was hot on the pop and new wave charts at the time. The group consisted of David Ashley on lead vocals and bass, Mitchell James on guitars, drummer Eddie Zeeman and Peter Alexandre on keyboards.

Few have tackled the smoky magic of the blues quite like Harpdog Brown. The engaging, accomplished and Lacombe-based musician (singer and harmonica player) is throwing a birthday party Jan. 29 at Wild Bill’s. He’s turning 49 (that’s seven in dog years he’s quick to point out) and he’s promising a night of rollicking tunes with his bandmates the Bloodhounds. Rounding out the band are pianist Graham Guest, ‘Charlie’ Ben Sure on guitar, Kenny Chalmers on tubs and Chris Chris Brzezicki on bass. “It will be over the top, no doubt,” he laughs during a recent chat. Brown has been carving out his own musical niche for decades now, and was pretty much born for life on the road. “Even as a toddler, I was always venturing off somewhere,” he says, recalling his childhood in Edmonton, his hometown. He also started playing instruments before he even really knew what they were. As a youngster, his mom would plunk him down with a lap steel guitar and he would come up with all kinds of stuff. That curiosity and attraction to creating only grew stronger as the years passed. In his late teens he landed his first gig as a guitarist with a singer. The guys would open for comedians, and although it wasn’t exactly where his heart was it was during times like this Brown really began to see his ability to connect with audiences. Next up he joined a rock band which further solidified his love for touring. Although things were hardly glamorous to start with. Brown remembers an early gig up in Fairview, and how the guys wound up in a less-than-stellar motel room with a mattress on the floor and a clothes hanger on the TV acting as a makeshift antenna. “I thought, it’s only going to get better,” he says with a chuckle. And it did. Brown eventually settled into the genre that would truly fit – the blues. It’s heartfelt nature, rife with honesty and gritty authenticity, is what has been so compelling to him over the years. “It’s all about the truth.” Finding music was and is his key way to express what he’s about. “Before blues was labeled the blues, it was known as black folk music – it was the music of the people. “Blues is the ideal vehicle for the message of life.” These days, he’s been teaming up with the aforementioned Graham Guest for the bulk of his shows. As to the birthday bash, he’s also excited to be hitting the stage with the Bloodhounds for the complete sonic experience. And yes, it’s going to be an explosive show – a special one for a meaningful day. “It’s my last year before I join the ‘50’ club,” he laughs. But really, when you’re lucky enough to be doing what you love to do, getting the chance to perform is a gift in itself. The gratitude in this man’s voice is unmistakable. “Every day is a special day.” Cost for the show is $10 per person. There is also a special rate at the hotel for out-of-town