Musician Bill Bourne has blues in his blood, and he’s ready to bleed his heart out at the Grist Mill this weekend.
“Blues to me is a very unassuming kind of music – it’s so rooted in people,” he said. “It really is about people and the human condition in most cases.”
Bourne said he’s going to be playing music from Gaia Sadhana, his new album slated to come out in the beginning of September. He said the album was entirely improvised along with the band Trancescapes, and it offers powerful feelings of relaxation.
“It’s a yoga record,” he said, adding that a yoga company will be distributing the record globally. “I’m pretty excited about that.”
His style derives from a style of blues called Piedmont, which he picked up from legendary country-blues musician Mississippi John Hurt, who pioneered the genre. Bourne said he came across one of his albums at the age of 16, “And I just fell in love with the record.”
“Piedmont sort of derived from country blues – it’s a fairly unique style. Once I got into it, I realized I was really comfortable with that style and the rhythms.”
His decision to practice Piedmont was solidified by the response he was receiving from audiences at countryside bars.
“Crowds at bars in northern rural Alberta were normally listening to rural top-40 country, but they really seemed to like the Piedmont. Even though people weren’t familiar with the music, they definitely got into it.”
That helped convince Bourne that he was taking his music in the right direction.
“I can remember clearly when I started playing music professionally. I was really groping around, didn’t know how it was going to evolve for myself. I realized (Piedmont) was one of my strengths, and people tend to go with their strengths. It’s a good thing to discover early in your career.”
While growing up in rural Alberta, Bourne’s parents were musicians in a dance band, which helped him to wrap his his head around the business of entertainment from a very young age. He’s even known to have napped behind the piano as a toddler while the dances were underway.
Bourne considers blues music to be timeless. He said there can be a great deal of hype surrounding products of the popular music, whereas blues has a quality that transcends time.
“Kind of like folk music. It’s not about selling records, but rather what’s going on internally with people and how they feel about things.”
His take on blues is an easygoing kind of music, he said.
“It’s not heavy but not particularly light. It’s easy to dance to with a two-step rhythm.”
Bourne said he often applies strong efforts into songwriting, but the process of coming up with quality materialis most often spontaneous.
“I can write for days and end up with nothing. It’s quite odd when a good idea comes up – suddenly it’ll seem like everything’s so obvious.”
He said the harder he tries, the less creative his ideas seem, while impromptu song ideas tend to be the ones he records and performs.
“I’m bit of a victim of the whole process – that’s really the best way to describe it.”
Since releasing his first record in 1990, Gaia Sadhana will be his 17th album.
The show happens on Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $20 and can be purchase at the Grist Mill’s front desk, online at www.oldgristmill.ca or by phone at 250-499-2888.
“Music is a dance; a happy heart. Music is the great teacher. The life in music is its power of transcendence: Music is a healing force that benefits all living things.”