Whitehorse builds music on stage 

Toronto Juno winners perform a free concert at Whistler Olympic Plaza on Saturday, Aug. 27

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Whitehorse Bandmates and mates Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet.
  • Photo submitted
  • Whitehorse Bandmates and mates Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet.

We're just two ex-Winnipeggers having a chat about music.

Luke Doucet of Whitehorse grew up in the Prairie metropolis in the 1980s — spending his formative years trying to get into clubs as a 15-year-old kid guitarist. I was likely in the audience, a university student at the time going out to The Spectrum Nightclub or the Blue Note Café.

Those experiences still shape the male half of the 2016 Juno Award-winning duo — his pursuit of the blues developed there.

"I lived on Walnut in Wolseley and my dad would drag me out to listen to blues at the Bella Vista. When you're a teenager you tend to deviate from what you get at home... I was never really into the rebellion side of it so I would hang out there and at all these other places," he recalls.

"I'd come out the Spectrum, go across the back alley and be at the Blue Note. I don't know why they'd let me in. I was underage. But I guess they accepted that I was a local musician and turned a blind eye. I'd show up five or six nights a week."

Fast-forward 30 years and Doucet lives in Toronto and has been on a tour around Canada with his other half in music and life, Melissa McClelland. Experienced musicians both, they formed Whitehorse in 2011.

They are performing Whitehorse's first-ever concert at Whistler Olympic Plaza as part of the Summer Concert Series on Saturday, Aug. 27, at 7:30 p.m.

This year's Adult Alternative Album Juno went to Whitehorse for their third studio album, 2015's Leave No Bridge Unburned.

What does adult alternative mean? More swearwords?

"I'm always trying to think of a way to make fun of that," Doucet says.

"Practically speaking, it means you're going to be up against Neil Young or Blue Rodeo. Those are artists that we emulate and respect. I'd been nominated in that category before as a solo artist and I always lost to Neil Young or Blue Rodeo.

"That's a source of pride for me. If I was losing to artists I didn't respect, I wouldn't be telling anybody. But I can brag that I lost to Neil Young. That's pretty fucking cool."

Northern South Vol. 1, Whitehorse's current album, came out at the start of the summer. It covers the blues greats in a uniquely Whitehorse way — one reviewer says it gives Howlin' Wolf the psychedelic rock treatment.

"I love sticking our necks out with Bridge, or whatever record, and then pulling it back to the cradle a bit. Half the songs on Northern South were songs I played when I was a teenager at the Bella Vista or the Blue Note," Doucet says.

For the Whistler Show, he says people can expect two people onstage building the music with loops and multi-instrumentals as they go along.

"A portion of the show is what we call bluegrass, but it isn't really bluegrass. It's two guitars and standing around one microphone," Doucet says.

"The rest of the show is building loops. It started out as percussion things and now it's full-on keyboard rigs and bass and guitars. We create a big sound for two people. We don't play to tracks, we build it on stage."


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