Open ears and open hearts are all Big Dave McLean hopes for when he performs for an Oak Bay audience next week.
“I’m just bringing my repertoire and two guitars,” he said with a chuckle. “We’ll be playing some blues.”
The Juno-nominated Canadian blues legend is known for his acoustic sets and the intimate setting of the Oak Bay Recreation Centre’s Upstairs Lounge suits him fine.
“I’ve been doing them half my life – doing that, I love it. One vocal. One foot stomping. I like putting on the show, don’t share the money with anybody, just hand it over to my wife when I get home,” he said with a laugh. “I want them to just hear the music, hear the songs, hear the stories. These are stories being told through song. The thing about the blues is it’s the people’s music – the stories that it tells.”
He’ll pull a handful of tunes from previous albums, including this year’s The Devil You Know for the Jan. 6 show.
“I won’t be doing a lot of those, they were all fairly big band tunes, putting a band together is pretty crazy,” he said.
“I had a wonderful time (making The Devil You Know) but we had people like Stray Cats and people who used to sing with Dylan. I don’t really cover all that by myself.”
A deep influence and affinity remains for the late legendary bluesman Muddy Waters, who McLean toured with decades ago. McLean brings those influences and a lifetime of experience building his own legend as a top Canadian bluesman.
“I have a lot to choose from. I’ll definitely have some tunes off the albums, but I’ll have a lot of more traditional blues stuff,” he said.
Those include tunes such as Waters’ Howlin’ Wolf with the Big Dave take. If you’re going to be an Elvis impersonator you need the bell bottoms and spangles, and that’s just not his style, he said.
“It’ll be my own interpretation and arrangements of their songs,” he said. “I’ll be covering a lot of material I didn’t write but they’re all songs that have touched me. I’ll be performing them in my own style.”
The show launches the 2016 album here, but he’ll have his seventh album, Faded But Not Gone (2014) also available for those looking to start the New Year with some new stories set to music.
“I fell in love with the poetry of the blues and the music style and rhythms, soul, heart and passion,” McLean said. “I love good music. Good music is good music it doesn’t matter the form – if it’s rap or Italian opera – if it’s good it’s good.”
He hasn’t visited the west coast in a couple of years, and looks forward to the return – a quick visit for the performance in Oak Bay and one in Nanaimo before heading back to Winnipeg for a short rest.
“I’m very excited about coming to the coast. I haven’t been there a while. I hope to see some of my friends there,” McLean said. “I”m looking forward to playing for some people who want to hear what I have to offer. I think it’s going to be a good time.”
Big Dave McLean, with opening act Blue Moon Marquee play at Oak Bay Recreation Centre Jan. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $20 ($25 at the door), available in advance at Ivy’s Bookshop in Oak Bay, Oak Bay Recreation Centre and at www.beaconridgeproductions.com online.