Calgary Bluesfest (2011)
In 2003 piano/vocalist Bill King pared down his dream band featuring partner and guitarist Neil Chapman - the Saturday Nite Fish Fry to the rhythm section and allowed it to feast on its own vices. A steady Friday night gig at RDs Barbeque & Blues in Toronto helped the four-piece find a name, attitude, distinct personality and new repertoire. The sound was classic blues with a bit of New Orleans and Southern rock sprinkled on top for seasoning. The group's debut went on to capture a Maple Blues Award for Best New Artist and a Juno nomination for best blues album.
It's now 2010 and the Rockit 88 is back with the two founders: keyboardist/vocals Bill King and guitarist/vocals - Neil Chapman and heavyweights - Jim Casson drums, Jay Speziale bass/vocals and newcomer Stacey Bulmer sharing frontline duty. The band has revamped its sound with several months of writing new material for their second release, Sweet Sugar Cane. Blues remains at the core but the band has added a touch of country rock, Appalachian, folk electric and Southern rock to the mix. Sweet Sugar Cane is all about storytelling - the kind that happens in the Deep South - civil rights, dignity, passion and desire, life, loss and the celebration of the human spirit. The songwriting has been called Van Morrison meets Bob Dylan.
At the core of the band's sound is a blend of rockin' piano, heavy slide guitar, thundering bass, pounding drums, four lead singers - a sound made to order by great American bands like the Allman Brothers and Little Feat.