Penticton Art Gallery goes for the blues

With a Juno nomination, a Western Canadian Music Award, two WCMA nominations and two Canadian Folk Music Award nominations to his credit, Joel Fafard has proven that he can take a niche genre like instrumental guitar music and make a significant name for himself at it.

With a Juno nomination, a Western Canadian Music Award, two WCMA nominations and two Canadian Folk Music Award nominations to his credit, Joel Fafard has proven that he can take a niche genre like instrumental guitar music and make a significant name for himself at it.

Now the award-winning guitarist  has stepped into another niche genre, with vocal covers of old Southern roots and blues songs.

For his new album, Cluck Old Hen, Fafard is offering up classic renditions of instantly-recognizable numbers like Come on in My Kitchen and Don’t Let your Deal Go Down, all sung in a baritone that demonstrates Fafard’s love of instrumental music was not for lack of singing chops. The guitar work — mostly on a National Steel — is every bit as skilled as one would expect from Fafard, and violinist Richard Moody brings extra life to the arrangements with some skillful playing of his own.

Fafard’s love of the blues goes back to his coming of age in Regina, when the local biker bar Georgia Fats was a destination for musicians from the Chicago blues scene. Canadians like Amos Garrett and Sue Foley also passed through the joint, as did Delta bluesmen like Charlie Musselwhite.

Among the songs Fafard covers on the recording are Muddy Waters’ I Can’t Be Satisfied, Willie Dixon’s Spoonful and the traditional Appalachian pieces John Hardy and  Angeline and the Baker.

None of the tracks are actually new to the Fafard repertoire. He has been including them in his live set for years. “Everybody was asking which albums they were on, and I got tired of saying ‘none of them,’” he said.

Only 40 tickets are available for the concert, which takes place in the Penticton Art Gallery Tea Room on May 22 at 7 p.m. To purchase advance tickets, drop by the gallery or call 250-493-2928.