Canadian roots music artist Lester Quitzau is a mellow guy who throws down a heavy groove. In a field where intangibles like feel and integrity count for so much, Quitzau has forged an exemplary career.
What began with a solid blues apprenticeship in the funky working-class bars of Edmonton has grown into an eclectic and constantly evolving musical journey for the guitarist, singer, songwriter, composer and producer.
He learned to play as a child, and by fifteen he'd saved enough to buy his first guitar, a Les Paul copy. Exposed to rock & roll by his older brother, and later the Pure blues of John Lee Hooker, the major blues influence of Lester's young life came at a skanky, cinder-block hotel called the Ambassador, long a mecca for legends direct from Chicago as well as the tight, inventive groups like Downchild Blues Band, Dutch Mason and David Wilcox.
His first recording came in 1993, with his solo album Keep On Walking, a classic collection of slide-inflected folk-blues. His second release A Big Love (1996) revealed a completely new side of the musician: electric, eclectic, lushly produced, and shot through with gritty urban riffs. 'Tri-Continental' features Lester teamed with folk and Celtic oriented Bill Bourne and African sensation Madagascar Slim, together releasing four albums, including the Juno Award Winning 'Tri-Continental' (2000). The Lester Quitzau Very Electric Trio's 'So Here We Are' (2001), sat on the nation's Top 10's for months. His latest project, 'Oh My' (2004), features a collaboration with his wife, singer/songwriter Mae Moore.
He was nominated for Best Roots Recording (2004) at The Western Canadian Music Awards, and the Juno's Best Blues Record (1997). He took home the Best Blues/R&B/Soul Artist Award by the Alberta Recording Industries Association, and has earned two Juno's, for Best Roots and Traditional Album (2000), and for his contribution to the CBC compilation "Saturday Night Blues" (1991).
Whether he's coaxing languid, hypnotic sounds from his slide guitar in an intimate solo concert, improvising freely with acoustic musical partners, or churning the energy of his electric bands, Lester's hard-won honesty underscores every note and holds audiences spellbound with is constant invention, trademark groove and sweeping blues vocabulary.
One of the great unsung Canadian guitarists, Gary Wolfe has been gracing musical circles for over 40 years, and boasts a large and fiercely loyal 'underground' fan-base. His may not be a household name, but that doesn't take the fact away that he's an absolute powerhouse guitarist.
As a boy of 14, Gary began playing when his parents give him a guitar he'd spotted in a Sears catalogue. He began listening to the records of the popular groups of the era, such as the Venturas, the Champs, and the Fireballs, and learned to play what he heard. By sixteen he was performing community hall and school dance gigs with his various combos, and went on to lead his own groups for nearly two decades, solidly establishing a reputation on the club circuit for his eclectic and highly polished sound.
Early in his career, Gary was introduced to jazz, and counts the music of Wes Montgomery, John McLaughlin and Pat Martino among those who heavily influenced him, serving to burnish his sound and technical ability to a fine sheen. In 1984, Gary relocated to L.A., where he spent the next six years, jumping on the opportunity to study with guitar masters Lenny Breau, Ted Green and Joe Diorio. He picked up a 2 night/week gig at the Beverley Garland Hotel with the Johnny Oliver Band (Oliver was the leading television and movie music contractor), where he names his multiple shows with John Fogerty, a night with one of his personal heroes, Duane Eddy, and a concert with Elvis' guitarist, James Burton among the many highlights. To this day Gary maintains a strong friendship and working collaboration with first-call studio musician Mitch Holder, and counts Lee Ritenour as one of his many friends.
With his style adept and broad, Gary plays jazz, blues or rock with equal finesse and jaw dropping fluency, all with the intensity of a lion. This sees him in demand as a player in a variety of formats, from live theatre to concert and recording dates.
Gary started teaching 25 years ago, and for the last fifteen years has owned and operated his own school, 'Wolfe Guitar Studios'. Gary is also endorsed by and is a representative for D'Angelico guitars.
"The last time Hamilton was here, playing with Katy Moffatt when she opened for John Hiatt, he stole the show - not only from Moffatt, but from Hiatt himself, dazzling the audience with mind and string-bending breaks that fused hot country licks and jazzy phrasing." Peter North, Edmonton Journal
For over 30 years Dave has been the guitarist of choice for the cream of the country crop, recording with legends Ian Tyson, Dick Damron, Tommy Hunter and Ronnie Prophet, and today's stars Paul Brandt, Katy Moffatt and Cindy Church.
The three-time consecutive winner of the "Alberta Instrumentalist of the Year" award (1990, '91 & '92) is known for his fiery licks and deft fingering. He's strongly versed in the country, rock, pop, jazz and western swing idioms, delving into all for inspiration and his unique sound.
Dave has been producing music since the early 1980's, and since 1990 has owned and operated his own studio, Hamiltone Productions. Along with his production work he provides Musical Direction and arranging for country music industry events, and is a frequent live performer and first-call studio musician.
Johnny V is about the Blues. Over the past thirty years the artist, historian and advocate has forged his original firebrand style, with scorching guitar passages, passionate vocals and distinctive phrasing.
These qualities along with his big sound fuse to become one electrifying musical presence. He's remained true to the form with his expansive knowledge of the many styles of the idiom, right down to the tones, licks, and equipment. Though you may hear hints of the great players he has studied, his style is uniquely Johnny V. He packs around at least four different guitars in order to get the right sound for the song being played.
Johnny has toured Canada, the U.S. and Europe, and has shared the stage with such luminaries as B.B. King, John Hammond, Otis Rush, Dr. John, Amos Garrett, Delbert McClinton, Pinetop Perkins, Eddy Clearwater, Sonny Rhodes, Frankie Lee, Larry Davis, Mighty Joe Young and Johnny Clyde Copeland, to name a few.
Chicago Bluesman Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater first noticed Johnny in 1986, inviting him to join the band, taking Johnny out on the road. Eddy put up the initial capital for Johnny's first solo recording, "Roosters and Hens" (1989), which contained "I Need A Woman", his tune which won him a Juno for his contribution to the compilation release "The Great Canadian Blues Project"(1991). This was followed by the Juno nominated CD "Terra Firma Boogie" with Triple Threat (1993), and "If My Daddy Could See Me Now" (1996), his acclaimed solo album. In 2000, he traveled to Latvia to record and release "Blues Party" with the Latvian Blues Band. Back in Canada, The Johnny V Trio released "Mustard and Relics" ( 2001), and in 2005, Johnny and his House Rent Party band hit the market with "Agonostically Eclectic".
Johnny has garnered numerous awards, including his recent nomination by the Maple Blues Awards for 'Best Guitarist of the Year'. He has been recognized on multiple occasions by Real Blues Magazine Awards, and has been featured in the Bravo Network Series "The Bluesman".
Amos Garrett any not be in the public eye like, say, Stevie Wonder or Bonnie Raitt or Maria Muldaur, but he's recorded with all of 'em, and close to 200 more.
He's not a high-energy performer with a lot of flash. Instead, he substitutes a wicked dry sense of humour and understated guitar licks that sound simple but need 40 years of hard work to pull off with the class that he always delivers.
He likes to stay close to home (in Turner Valley, Alberta) but he tours in unlikely places like France and Japan and Scotland. He's known for his electric guitar work - but his latest release "Amos Garrett's Acoustic Album' is his first all-acoustic album in more than 25 years, except for an independently released side project called Cold Club of Canada that was released back in 1996.
Amos Garrett has been playing for more than 40 years - and his list of credits is extensive. Born in the U.S., he moved to Canada with his family when he was four. After playing with various local groups in Montreal and Toronto, and an attempt to study English literature at university, he chose a music career.
His first fully professional gig was with a JFK impersonator called Vaughn Meador (and was at Carnegie Hall to boot). As his career unfolded, he took part in the sessions for Anne Murray that gave the world "Snowbird," went on the road with Ian and Sylvia and the Great Speckled Bird, played the classic solo on Maria Muldaur's "Midnight at the Oasis" and was her bandleader for six years, was a member of Paul Butterfield's legendary band Better Days, and won a Juno Award for his work on a classic Stony Plain album called "The Return of the Formerly Brothers" with the late Doug Sahm and pianist Gene Taylor.
Today, as laid back as he is, Amos Garrett is busy. Within the last year, there was a made-for-TV film shoot, a tour of France (and Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium), back to Canada for the festival season (including a Kaos Blues Festival appearance!), a tour of Britain in the fall, and a trek through Ontario.
Award-winning guitar player and singer Jack Semple is an absolute virtuoso of his art form. A passionate performer, he has played from Vancouver to Montreux, released seven albums, and shared the stage with a wide range of the world's top artists.
Listening to and watching Jack play fills one with a sense of having witnessed an event in time, one not soon to be forgotten. Jack Semple is a guitar player's guitar player. An absolute virtuoso of his art form, Jack plays with unparalleled feeling and total technical control. All of that and the man can sing! Jack has a set of pipes that are smooth as silk and as raw and jagged as rocks cutting through an ocean shoreline. His vocal talents alone are an event to behold.
Jack discovered music at the age of seven when he saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and his older brothers taught him some chords. Since his humble prairie beginnings, Jack has gone on to play from Vancouver to Montreaux, released several CDs, won a Juno Award, and shared the stage with a wide range of top artists, from Martha Reeves to k.d. lang. He was the 1992 winner of the Much Music "Guitar Wars", and recently won a 2005 Western Canadian Music Award for his new CD "Qu'Appelle."
Jack is a prolific composer/songwriter, and has written scores for and appeared in film & television, and has worked for CBC radio and TV.