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Bluesman legend in his own right

Solo artist John Lee Hooker Jr. tops Blues Charts and receives award accolades

Who: John Lee Hooker Junior

When: Tuesday, Jan 24 & Wednesday, Jan. 25

Where: Tuesday Buffalo Bill’s, Wednesday GLC

Tickets: $20

"It’s extremely difficult to do what J.L.H. Jr. has done here: confront both the blessing and the burden of being heir to one of the music’s most daunting legacies, while still retaining one’s own identity," writes David Whiteis of Living Blues Magazine.

The only similarities between the music of John Lee Hooker Junior and his father, the late legendary bluesman John Lee Hooker, is that both of their music has hit the Blues Charts.

"I am not trying to live up to him," Hooker Jr. said from his studio in California, taking a break from rehearsals for his new album, Cold As Ice .

"I can’t, it’s impossible…. You don’t need two BB Kings. Only one. Same for John Lee Hookers."

A growing legend in his own right, Hooker Jr. stands at the crossroads of a new era with modern blues captured in gritty vocals and tongue-in-cheek lyrics for two shows Tuesday, Jan. 24 at Buffalo Bill’s and Wednesday, Jan. 25 at the Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC).

Although Hooker Jr. was playing venues such as Detroit’s Fox Theatre with Jimmy Reed at the tender age of 16, that was many years ago. Hooker only recently launched his solo career with the debut of his 2004 solo album, Blues With A Vengeance. With it, came numerous accolades including a Grammy nomination for Best Blues Album and a Best New Artist Debut win from the W.C. Handy Awards, just to name a few. The album was the only blues album to Top 100 at the time, ranking #57 on the Mainstream Album Chart.

An ambassador of the golden age of the blues, Hooker Jr. seeks to transcend music genres, generations and races with his Motown-inspired, modern-day sounds.

"The modern way I do it is what establishes me," he said of his contemporary blues. "The way I sing it and write my lyrics differentiates me from my dad and anybody else. It reaches everybody: youngsters, blacks, whites and people all over the world. I don’t target one group of people like they did in the older days."

Instead of the more familiar crying the blues over your daddy leaving or taking to the drink, Hooker Jr. sings about modern everyday issues such as bankruptcy and even wives getting caught with other wives.

Hooker Jr. sees blues descendants such as himself as playing key roles in the popularity of the blues.

"It’s coming up," he said of blues in the current music market. "All of the offspring of the legends are out there and they are all carrying on the torch that they left behind. I am carrying on (my dad’s) torch and keeping it alive."

The soul of the old south burns bright in his new album, Cold as Ice , set for a June release. He takes side trips from the blues into jazz and ballads, which is a departure from his last album.

"I am doing a lot of different things, but it is still the blues," he said. "It is always going to be something new. When you create, you create to always do something better. That’s why I am going back to rehearsal, why you put in the work."

Before returning to rehearsals, Hooker Jr. had one last thought.

"I love the people in Whistler. They treat me so well," Hooker Jr. said. "I am looking for Keith, the ski instructor. He knows who he is. I want my free ski lesson. Let him know I am ready to learn."

Maybe it will help Hooker Jr. get into the mood for his Cold as Ice sets.

Call 604-932-2446 for advanced $20 tickets.