This long weekend (August 4-6), Gravenhurst, ON is the place to be., as the inaugural Sawdust City Music Festival will be taking place. In an effort to showcase some of the great talent taking part in the festival, we are doing a series of interviews throughout the next few months. So far, we have chatted with The Julian Taylor Band, Bet Smith & The Currie Brothers, Jessica Mitchell, Tim Moxam, Abigail Lapell and Northern Beauties. For our final installment of The Road To Sawdust City Music Festival, we’re happy to speak to Papa John.
So now that the time is so close, check out the schedule for the event, and if you’re able be sure to stop by!
First off, care to introduce yourself to the Canadian Beats readers?
Well, what can I say? I’m a man you don’t meet everyday…not in these parts, at least. I’m a stubborn blues purist in an ever-changing musical world…but I prefer to drag my feet and hang on to the past, musically speaking. I tend to stay locked into the one-hundred year window of the previous century’s worth of historical blues culture and song-writing, and I try to perform it in the bombastic juke-joint style of the old southern plantations. It’s time-travel for me, and hopefully for my audiences.
Sawdust City Music Festival is in its inaugural year, how does it feel to be a part of this event?
It feels wonderful! It’s like we’re using history to make a little history of our own, and ideally we’ll spawn a new tradition.
You are one of many extremely talented artists on the lineup for Sawdust City Music Festival, who are you most excited to check out at the festival?
The audience, of course! They’re the intangible that a performer is obliged to involve…I can’t wait to see how they perform, so to speak. But, of course, it’s my job to make them a part of the show…and I will. As for the other performers, I know they’re all top-notch, but I must admit, I don’t really know most of them because I remain kind of cocooned in my own little blues world, ha ha. Other than my own gigs, I don’t get out much. I know anything The Currie Brothers touch turns to gold, and Bet Smith is the jewel in that crown!
Are you performing at any other festivals this summer that you’d like to tell us about?
Yes, I’ve been invited to play at The Wasaga Beach Blues Festival in September, and I’ve played in several multi-act shows throughout Muskoka in the spring and summer. It’s always a blast to share the stage and backstage with other performers in the area…great way to become more aware of them and appreciate them.
Describe your live show using only 5 words.
Well, as my business card says: “Mississippi Delta Plantation Juke-joint Blues”…does that work?
If you were asked to give an up and coming Canadian artist some advice, what would that advice be?
Never prostitute yourself. Play what you feel you’ve been “called” to play, and find a way to make it work for audiences without compromising yourself. That means be stubborn, but not stupid. Don’t join the pack; lead a new one. Bend the world to your will. The magic formula lies in finding the sweet spot where both you and your audience are pleased with what you’re doing…easier said than done.
Who are your favourite Canadian artists/ bands?
Well, I have a bias towards the blues players, many of whom are still somewhat unsung, so to speak. Morgan Davis, Colin Linden, Colin James, Jerome Godboo, and many others who have been slugging it out quite happily over the years. They’re the genuine players, usually uninterested in fame & fortune, but rather just playing great music with authentic touch and feel…musicianship from the heart.
What’s up next for you?
Well, I’m going to just keep chugging along with my weekly string of gigs in the “Muskoka Triangle,” which is quickly reaching out to other towns in the fall: Barrie, Georgetown, Collingwood…things are growing for me, for sure, but I must say, I’m quite content with the regular down-to-earth bar & patio gigs. Simplicity is nice! I’m quite lucky to be having the fun I’m having right now.
Connect with Papa John:
I’m Jenna, and I am the founder and editor of Canadian Beats. I have had a strong love for Canadian music, which started many years ago. I have a passion for promoting these talented Canadian bands and artists, and that’s how Canadian Beats came to be. I am so proud of what it has become over the last few years, with many talented music lovers and writers coming together to spread the word of Canada’s music.