Swinging with the blues

Zakiya Hooker is promising a complete education in the blues when she arrives at the Dream Café next week

Zakiya Hooker is promising a complete education in the blues when she arrives at the Dream Café next week.

The show starts, she said with some of the very traditional, acoustic only styles, from performers like Lead Belly, and songs like Ain’t it a Shame and Backwater Blues.

While she takes a break, Chris James steps in with some Rhythm & Blues and soul, before Hooker returns to the stage.

“Then I do another portion of the show that is a bit more contemporary, with some of my dad’s — One Bourbon, One Scotch, songs like that — then some of my own” said Hooker. “It’s going to be a full spectrum. You go from the very beginning up to now.”

“Dad” in this case was blues legend John Lee Hooker, known for his signature guitar playing and talking blues style.

Though she’s still singing the blues, Hooker said she is a very different performer.

“My dad used to tell me this, ‘Do what you do. You are not  me and don’t let people try to make you me,’” she said. “No one will ever live up to what he did. He is out there in a field by himself, he is such a unique icon.”

Hooke said her voice is different and not just from her dad’s gravelly bass.

“It is not your typical female blues singer, who is this big belter. I’ve got more of a jazzy blues voice,” said Hooker.

It was her dad that started her love of the blues, though.

“I’ve always loved the music. I loved to sit out and listen to my dad and the guys who came to the house to play. I would dance and it was always  just so cool to me,” said Hooker, joking that back then, she didn’t know just how cool these musicians were.

It’s been a number of years since Hooker toured in Canada. She says she is looking forward to coming back and to performing at the Dream Café.

“I love intimate clubs, because people have a tendency in an intimate club to actually listen to the music, said Hooker.

Hooker will be performing at the Dream Café on July 30 and 31. Visit thedreamcafe.ca for ticket information.

It wasn’t until later in life that Hooker began performing professionally though.

“I always wanted to do it, but sometimes life can get in the way. I got married, I three children I had to raise by myself,” she said.

Then, in 1987, Hooker met Chris James in California. He was in the music business, she said and had performed with “a slew of people,” including her dad.

“He told me you ought to be doing something with your talent,” said Hooker. James helped her make contacts in the California music scene and put a band together.

“Chris did all that for  me. From then on it was onwards and just forward march,” said Hooker.   “My very first show was with my Dad, it was in 1991. It was a beautiful venue in Oakland, Calif.”