With five decades of guitar playing, Jack Semple is no stranger to playing solo. He’s performing at the Dream Café on Jan. 17. Ben Husband photo

Acoustic blues to fill the Dream Café

Jack Semple bringing his solo show to Penticton

Jack Semple is back at the Dream Café, but this time the Juno-award winning musician is offering a solo acoustic guitar concert.

Semple describes his music as “funky and bluesy and soulful.”

“I play lots of different diverse music. But the music that I that I write, it’s contemporary blues music, which means it’s got more than three chords and all the songs aren’t shuffles,” he said with a laugh. “My new album is called Can’t Stop This Love and it’s got some of the best music I’ve ever written.”

He’s looking forward to offering his music to the audience at the Dream.

“I love that place. It’s a great listening room. That’s what we call it in the biz, when people actually listen,” said Semple. “It’s a fantastic venue.”

He’ll be playing music from his new album, as well as selections from older recordings.

“I have a tribute to Gordon Lightfoot that are all instrumental guitar versions. I have another CD called Qu’apelle, it’s the French word for means who calls. That is all original acoustic guitar solo music. It’s beautiful, kind of new age acoustic guitar compositions.”

The first set, Semple said, will be himself on acoustic guitar, but in the second set he’ll be joined by an old friend, Vernon bass player Dave Chabot.

“Then we’ll get a little bluesy and a little more soulful in the second set,” said Semple.

Though he does sometimes play with a band, Semple said the Dream Café performance is going to be just himself on acoustic guitar, without even a drum machine to keep the beat.

“I use my right foot. I’m like Stompin’ Tom (Connors),” said Semple. He says it’s no problem being out there on stage without any backup.

“The first gigs I ever played were solo guitar gigs. When I started playing guitar … I got into classical and flamenco guitar,” said Semple. “I learned that kind of performance chops before anything else. I didn’t play in a band until I was 19.”

It takes a lot of practice, he said, adding that he’s been “woodshedding” to prepare.

“Woodshedding means you lock yourself in the woodshed to practice,” said Semple. “It’s an old term musicians use, guitar players particularly. You lock yourself off away from everybody from the world and you practice eight hours a day you know until you reach the next level.”

Semple talks about his music being contemporary blues, but that doesn’t mean he’s left classic blues behind, that includes having a tribute to BB King as a side project.

When I first heard BB King I thought well, he might as well be talking with his guitar,” said Semple. “One thing is special about his particular music is that it’s easily understood by by the general public. It’s so lyrical, so musical, and the phrasing and the spaces between the notes.

“It’s just like a van Gogh or a piece of music by Mozart as far as I’m concerned.”

BB King’s music led Semple to Muddy Waters and the other blues greats like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Sonny Boy Williamson and more.

“I love that music. It’s that music at the roots of all popular music. It’s the roots of hip hop, heavy metal, country rock, jazz, funk,” said Semple.

“I love interacting with the audience because that’s what it’s all about. That’s what music is; it’s a conversation because they know I’ve got something to say to them,” said Semple. “But at the end of the night, I want them to say something back to me. When you get a good rapport with the audience, everything is so easy, then it just flows and it’s a two way conversation.”

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