After years of performing as a sideman and session player, Jake Chisholm has burst onto the blues rock scene as a frontman. Chisholm is fresh off the heels of a new album, Diamond In A Coalmine, and we caught up with the Toronto based bluesman to discuss the new album, the blues, why now was the time to launch his solo career, and more.
What’s the Toronto blues rock scene like, and how has it been coming up through there?
Toronto has an amazingly diverse music scene, partly because it’s so multicultural and accepting, but also because of its rich musical history. Great Blues, R&B, and Rock bands from the states all play here from NY City, Detroit and Chicago and everywhere else. It’s also Canada’s largest city, so anyone who is serious about music in Canada ends up here. The scene here pushes me to keep playing and growing, and I think it has helped us to be a band with real roots.
What is it about the blues that drew you to the genre?
Wow! That is hard for me to put into words but here goes… When I first heard Hendrix and Page I knew that they had gotten it from somewhere, because how else could guys in their twenties play like that. It was through them that I discovered the blues. It hit me like a lightning bolt to the chest! And I knew I had no choice but to play music with that kind of sincerity and bravery.
How did you decide which cover songs to perform on Diamond In A Coalmine?
Well, I heard Listens’ version (with Robert Plant) of “You Better Run” and thought it was great song and a wicked vocal performance. I thought it would be really cool to adapt it a bit to the sound that we shoot for live. We tried it at a couple shows and people cheered every time we did it.
“Traveling Riverside Blues” was just a jam that we did in the studio at the very end of one of the sessions. I thought the vibe was cool so it “made the cut.”
You have been an in demand session player in Toronto. Why did you feel the time was right now to launch your solo career?
I feel very inspired to make recordings and play guitar with other artists to try to make the best music that we can. But for me, my band is the chance to do my thing, and in terms of timing there was no master plan ahead of time. It just seems to be that people are digging it and it has its own momentum now. I hope that momentum keeps building because we are having a blast!
Will you be touring to promote the album?
Yes, we have a lot of festival shows booked this summer in Canada. And we’d like to get to the US and parts of Europe next. For us, it’s all about playing live and connecting with an audience, and we’re looking for the right connections to help us get out to new audiences. Diamond In A Coalmine has only been out for three weeks, but already there is a lot going on.
If you had to pick only 5 albums to listen to for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Led Zeppelin, 1
Kenny Burrell, Midnight Blue
Jimi Hendrix, Axis Bold As Love
Louis Jordan, Rock and Roll
Muddy Waters, Real Folk Blues
But I could go on and on…
What’s next for you?
Touring, Festivals, and writing for the next record.
Interview by Pete Francis