SURREY — James Brown was widely considered the hardest working man in show business, but, with apologies to the departed funk-rock legend, he probably couldn’t hold a candle to Pat Chessell this month.
In March, with St. Patrick’s Day on the calendar, the Surrey-based musician is in the midst of a 24-gig run at various Metro Vancouver-area pubs, thanks to the lively, sing-along style of Irish folk-rock he plays, both solo and with his band.
In such a hectic month of playing music, Chessell says he has to take special care of his voice.
“You can’t really be pounding drinks after your shows, or even before, because you have to keep care of it,” he told the Now with a laugh. “Making it through a busy month like this, I find just drinking lots of water and tea really helps, that kind of stuff, and making sure I get a good sleep, too.”
This weekend, Chessell’s itinerary includes shows at Dublin Crossing in Clayton (Thursday night and Friday lunchtime), CelticFest Vancouver (Friday early evening), Celtic Village at Robson Square (Friday night, opening for Delhi 2 Dublin and The Paperboys), another CelticFest Vancouver gig (Saturday afternoon) and, finally, Blue Frog Studios in White Rock (Saturday evening).
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This is the fifth year Pat Chessell Band is booked to play a St. Patrick’s Day-themed concert at Blue Frog, and it’s a highlight of their year.
“It’s special for us, for sure, because it’s so intimate and interactive in there,” Chessell said. “Because the audience is so close, it just feels like you’re not really on a stage – it’s more like you’re just sitting around telling a story and playing songs.”
He added: “It’s entirely different than playing a pub, where it’s more about people wanting to get drunk and maybe meet someone, but there (at Blue Frog) it’s people who want to hear the songs – not only the song but the story behind the song, too. That’s a really nice element about it.”
At Blue Frog, Chessell will be joined by Andrea Lewis-Taylor on fiddle, Rick Chapman on drums, Nathanael Powell on multiple instruments and Brendan Mooney on bass. Show details are posted at Bluefrogstudios.ca/newshows.html#pc, or call 604-542-3055.
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Early this month, Chessell released a new single, “The Mother in Law,” on digital music platforms. The song, based on a traditional melody, was recorded at a few local studios, including Blue Frog for Damaris Woods’ banjo parts. Other musicians who played the song are Gerry O’Connor (of the Irish Rovers), Michael Viens, Tim Renaud and Greg Schnider.
“A really cool thing is that Gerry lives in Ireland, so he actually recorded his fiddle part in Belfast and emailed it back to us, which is kind of neat,” said Chessell.
His connection to the Irish Rovers dates back a couple of years.
“I met the Rovers at a gig they did in town (and) I kept in touch with all of them, and they’ve been really supportive,” Chessell explained. “They’re underwriters for a Celtic music radio show, based out of Hawaii, actually, and they’ve been giving me lots of airplay on there, which is great, so they’ve been a big help.”
To date, Chessell has two albums to his credit, including “Live and Lusty,” which was recorded at Surrey’s Dublin Crossing, and the more recent “Lullabies and Battle Cries,” released in 2013.
The song “The Mother in Law” is a taste of things to come, Chessell noted.
“We wanted to record and release that one right now, and we’re working on another one right now, too, just slowly chipping away at an album,” he said. “We hope to have it done in the next year or so. It’s time for another one, I think.”
Some recordings of Chessell’s songs, including “The Mother in Law,” can be found at Reverbnation.com/patchessell3.