Papa Josh returns 

Now based in Seattle, the funk and R&B Whistler stalwart is expanding his music

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  • Papa Josh

Papa Josh has created his own personal extension of the Sea to Sky corridor all the way down to Seattle and is making it work.

The Whistler music stalwart grew up in Indiana, went to school in Chicago and found his way to the resort in 2004, where he had an established profile as a funk, jazz and R&B performer.

He started playing with Seattle-based Klosed Sirkut, a four-piece electronic-funk group, several years ago before deciding to move back to the U.S. last summer in order "to expand a bit" and spend more time touring south of the border.

"I did occasional tours with those guys (while still living in Pemberton) and also gigs with a funk group where their trumpet player played, called Marmalade. I was looking to delve more into that scene, because I felt that there was a lot of appreciation there for what I was doing and really good musicians down there," Papa Josh says.

At the moment, he is also working with, or on, four projects in total. Despite the work, moving back to the U.S. was not an easy decision.

"It has been awesome, but I really toyed around with the decision for a long time. It was continually seeing that there was a lot of appreciation down there for what I was doing and the connections I made with musicians were really positive," he says.

"I had a good feeling to work off of and since I've been down there I've really been reassured by the whole process."

But he will never remove himself from the corridor completely, he says, not least because his eight-year-old son lives here.

"I'm trying to come back even a couple of days a week, if I can, we'll see how the schedule goes. I've definitely spent a lot of time up here for the holidays, which has been great," he says.

To that end, he has been playing a series of gigs before and after Christmas, and is playing solo at the Mallard Lounge in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler on Jan. 9, 10 and at the Nita Lake Lodge on Jan. 11.

But back to Seattle.

"So much of the Seattle music scene is focused on creative original music. It's well appreciated, and it's large; there are a lot of really good musicians and music lovers. I'll get on the bus there with a guitar and the bus driver will know more jazz guitar players than I do!" he laughs.

Now that Papa Josh has been playing in bigger venues from Seattle down to Oregon and beyond, he has been able to see Whistler's place in the musical world of the west coast. What he encountered here musically certainly had a professional impact.

He feels that while there are great opportunities for shows here, it is tougher "to do a creative, individual project since it is pretty tourist oriented and geared towards doing covers.

"But to me, Whistler also has a lot of stuff going on. It has a very cool electronic music scene and with my looping (Papa Josh won the Canadian National Loop competition in 2011)... that led me to pursue a combination of live music and electronic software applications on my own. That hooked me into the electronic scene, the festivals, playing along with DJs — so the resort really has something strong in that realm, which I thought was really cool," he says.

"That has been a whole new direction for me over the years that Whistler has influenced."

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