Tag Archives: Elvis Costello

Damon Fowler Has Earned A Big Reputation Among Guitarists

by Bill Monahan

Blues fans can find respite from the frigid winter weather this weekend, warming up to Southern Blues sounds of young blues phenom Damon Fowler, performing Saturday with his power trio at the Simcoe Street Theatre in Collingwood.

As a genre, authentic blues is in good hands these days with a cohort of young players who have the knack of infusing this venerated music with a respectful blend of its roots and personal feeling.  In this area just this past year, we’ve enjoyed exceptional blues from young artists Conor Gains and Jenie Thai, and now Damon Fowler brings another exciting performer to watch.

A Florida native, Fowler began playing guitar at the age of twelve.  One of his earliest influences was Jeff Healey.  He quickly developed a style that is equal parts tradition and originality, applying it to acoustic and electric guitar, dobro and lap steel, with an emphasis on slide work.  He began gigging as a support act and attracted enough notice that his first, self-released album was produced by Rick Derringer.

As a solo he opened for artists that included several blues legends such as Delbert McClinton, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, Jeff Beck, and many more.  His reputation spread.

Brit-Pop, Georgian Bay style, with John Brownlow

John Brownlow will be playing in Meaford tonight at The Red Door Pub and Grille as part of a Songwriters’ Showcase that includes Bill Monahan and Dave Hawkins.  Although he is well known in the area, particularly by musicians who have benefitted from his talents as a producer and video producer, and from the attendees at the Bi-Monthly Songwriters’ Circle who benefit from his perceptive feedback, he doesn’t get out much to play since disbanding his group The Sportswriters a few years ago.

The Sportswriters ran for four or five years, and it kind of felt like it had run its course,” he said.  Part of the problem was that he is a restless creative spirit, always wanting to try a new direction, and part of it was because with every song he writes he has “a very specific sound in my head”.  The best bet for him, then, seemed to be to do it all himself.  “I had a few things to get out of my system,” he says.  Since breaking up the band, he has spent hours in his home studio working on his original songs, playing all of the parts himself except for the drums.  It’s been a process of sorting out the scraps of ideas he’d been collecting.

“I record every idea I have.  So I started with about 300 song ideas, half had lyrics and half didn’t, pared them down to 70 and then whittled those down to 30.”  He recorded those thirty songs with a variety of instrumental arrangements, carefully “putting the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle”.  Now he’s finished, with songs fully mixed and mastered, and just has to figure out the best way to get them to the public.  But while he’s sorting that out, he’s written fifteen more since then, so he wants to record them.

“It’s all storytelling,” he says, “constructing a narrative”

It’s a prodigious output from a guy with a fertile imagination.  Although the songs range through different emotions, moods and sonic colourings, the one thing they all have in common is that they are unashamedly pop music.  He’s not into angst.  He wants to write and record songs that sound good coming out of the dashboard of a car.  The result is a collection of songs with more hooks than a salmon derby.