Entertainment

Harmonica whiz gets back to business

Blues harpist Sherman “Tank” Doucette returns to the Vernon Jazz Club with his Tankful of Blues, Saturday. - submitted
Blues harpist Sherman “Tank” Doucette returns to the Vernon Jazz Club with his Tankful of Blues, Saturday.
— image credit: submitted

Winter will melt away when electrifying master bluesman of the harmonica Sherman “Tank” Doucette and his Tankful of Blues heat up the stage at the Vernon Jazz Club Saturday.

Tankful of Blues’ terrific line-up includes Cole Leaver on guitar, Robert Johnson on guitar, Grant Jones on bass, and John Modder on drums.

Special surprise guest Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne, Juno award-winning king of the boogie-woogie piano, will join Doucette during the evening.

“We’ll be playing a lot of Louis Jordan, Jimmy Rogers, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, along with my own originals,” said Doucette.

But don’t try to pin Doucette down when it comes to specifics.

“I usually don’t write a set list.  I have more than 100 songs in my head that we’re ready to play.  I choose the next tune based on the audience’s response. I’m an entertainer first – I play for the people,” said Doucette.

Doucette brings his usual high energy “blues on fire” style to the fans.

“I tend to play three or four songs for the audience and then choose a ballad so I can pull it back, take a little breather from all the energy, and then bare my soul,” said Doucette. “Then I ramp it up again – I love leaving at the end of the night with the room in a state of frenzy.”

Born into a musical family in North Battleford, Sask., Doucette has been playing music since he was a young boy. On the road by age 15, Doucette took his harmonica to Vancouver, discovering the Chicago blues style as expressed by legendary blues musicians Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, and James Cotton.

“A guy in Saskatoon let me listen to a Muddy Waters’ record and, wow, I loved the music.  The guy saw I was so impressed and gave me the record,” said Doucette.

Inspired, Doucette eventually developed his own particular brand of playing, greatly influenced by the late, great Paul Butterfield. He began performing in a variety of local blues and rock bands.

In 1977, Doucette survived a massive explosion in a lumber mill that left him with burns to over 50 per cent of his body. His determination to recover earned him the nickname “Tank.” This determination fuels Doucette’s desire to stick with the blues.

“I’m still a contender. All my heroes — great harp legends like Paul Butterfield, Little Walter, Junior Wells — have died.  I’m ready to step into that void because I still feel passionate about the blues and about keeping it alive,” said Doucette.

Doucette has played harmonica with a legendary roster of musicians, including John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Sunnyland Slim, Pinetop Perkins, and Long John Baldry.

Besides playing harmonica, Doucette also collects them, including over 700 antique harmonicas. He is honoured to be endorsed by Hohner, world renowned manufacturer of harmonicas.

Upcoming gigs include an invitation to headline the Canada Day celebrations in North Battleford, which is celebrating its centenary this year.

Doucette is always a hot ticket in town – avoid disappointment and get your tickets early!

Doucette and his Tankful of Blues take the stage at the Vernon Jazz Club, 3000-31st St. (upstairs) Saturday at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $20 (with rebates at the door for jazz society members) at the Bean Scene and Bean to Cup.

 

 

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