Every year the German music label Ruf Records assembles three of their best artists and sends them on tour together. This year, that tour, the Blues Caravan, is coming to Revelstoke, with Jimmy Bowskill, Joanne Shaw Taylor, and Bart Walker on board.
“What he does is he just puts together three of his artists with a backup band and we just tour around. So, Blues Caravan, man,” Jimmy Bowskill told me on the phone from Los Angeles, where he was working on some new songs during a break in the tour.
This year’s tour is being dubbed as Tomorrow’s Guitar Heroes. Taylor is the veteran of the group, having played on the Blues Caravan tour in 2009. Originally from England and now living in Texas, she has played with the likes of Annie Lennox and B.B. King.
Walker, who is based in Nashville, released his debut album, Who Am I, last year, He was also named the best guitarist at the 2012 International Blues Challenge.
“Bart’s a little more Texas rock, ZZ-Top, Skynyrd sort of sound. A little more country flavoured. Joanne’s a little more Hendrix-y. A llittle more psychedelic, jammy sort of stuff,” said Bowskill. “My stuff is seventies trio rock, like Cream.”
According to his press sheet, Bowskill, 22, from Toronto, was discovered by Jeff Healey when he was only 11 years old. He told me he got into guitar at a young age through his parents, who were both music lovers.
“My dad was a bit of a singer and he used to jam with his buddy, a guitar player from Toronto,” said Bowskill. “He was great, really inspired me to get going. Having all those classic records around … I just wanted to be a guitar player. I was surrounded by it.”
The three of them met for the first time last fall for a photo shoot and to record a demo track to promote the tour. So far they have played about 50 shows together and have another 30 coming up starting this week in Nelson, B.C. They are in Revelstoke on Saturday, May 25, at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre at 7:30 p.m.
The Blues Caravan tour will see each musician play a 30–40-minute set, backed up by the same drummer and bass player. It gives them each a chance to show off their chops. At the end of the night, the three guitarists will take to the stage and play a few songs together. “It’s pretty diverse, and because of that, it’s fun,” said Bowskill.
The most memorable show so far was one in a small town in East Germany, where they played a three-level bar with folk-art adorning the walls. From the upper floors you could look down and see the band play.
“It was packed and just great vibes. It was a cool venue and awesome show,” he said.
I put Bowskill on the spot a little by asking him his dream Blues Caravan lineup. If he could play with any two blues artists, dead or alive, who would it be?
“That’s a hard one to answer because I don’t know what it would be like with different folks,” he replied. “It would be hard to imagine doing it with other folks.”
Blues Caravan is at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre on Saturday, May 25, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20.