Mr. Groove Gillespie brings legendary style to Dream Café

Terry Gillespie, who has played with blues legends, is performing at the Dream Café on Thursday. - Submitted Photo
Terry Gillespie, who has played with blues legends, is performing at the Dream Café on Thursday.
— image credit: Submitted Photo

Canada’s king of roots blues is stopping at the Dream Café on Thursday for a one night performance on his tour of western Canada.

Not many blues artists can claim to have played with Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, JJ Cale and Howlin’ Wolf, but Terry Gillespie has. It all started when he was growing up in the Detroit area and Wolf asked him to play guitar in his band.

Coming of age in the USA, Canadian born Gillespie was a crafty teen who wanted nothing more than to join in and immerse himself in the roots of American music. When he was 16 or 17, the drinking age in Michigan was 21. Gillespie was six feet tall and wore a sport coat, shades and a skinny moustache that he drew on his top lip with ink. Terry would sneak in to the bars where jazz and blues music was being played — and ultimately where Gillespie would cut his teeth as a blues and roots musician in his own right.

From the very beginning of Gillespie’s foray into the music industry he was never interested in being a pop star. He just wanted to play music.  His goal was to get inside the music he loved, to learn the notes and nuances of the songs. Gillespie said he wanted to be able to deconstruct the complexities of jazz, blues and African music in order to bring it to people and allow the listener to also get inside the music and be lost among each note, each phrase, each groove and each lyric.

Fast forward more than 20 years and find Gillespie as he is now. Some will call him seasoned, some may call him a veteran and others will call him a survivor — a survivor of the excesses of the music industry.  A survivor indeed, though Gillespie does not dwell on the past. He takes life’s lessons, trials, and triumphs and uses them to create his music. His musical influences are diverse, drawing from his love of reggae, African music, jazz, and of course, blues.

His latest album, Bluesoul, was released in September 2013 and continues to get significant airplay nationally and internationally. The album is in Top 50 on Roots Music Report Blues Album Charts for the past three months and in the Top 50 most played albums on Galaxie The Blues for the past six months.

He also played with Reggae superstars Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff and Dennis Brown. In 1979 Gillespie formed the band Heaven’s Radio, which occasionally still performs. Gillespie has been called a musical Shaman, Canada’s king of roots blues and Mr. Groove for good reason. His live performances are fascinating, entertaining and captivating in a way that allows the audience to pay attention.

Joining him on tour is bass player/violinist Lyndell Montgomery (originally from Smithers, B.C.) with stops in the Okanagan, Chilliwack and Vancouver. Montgomery has toured and recorded with countless artists around the globe from India to Australia to Northern B.C.

Tickets to the March 27 show at the Dream Café are two for $22. For reservations contact the Dream Café at 250-490-9012.

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