Tag Archives: Jeff Beck

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.

Conor Gains Has Impressed The Best From An Early Age

Conor Gains and The Ramblin’ Moon will be bringing another great night of music to The Marsh Street Centre in Clarksburg next weekend, March 25th.

If you close your eyes and listen to Conor Gains play and sing you can hear the history of the blues, from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago.  He’s an old soul, born to sing the blues.

Conor, was born in 1993, two years after his namesake, Conor Clapton, at the age of four-and-a-half, tragically died in a fall from a window forty stories up.  The boy’s father, Eric Clapton, memorialized his son in several songs, including “Circus” and “Tears In Heaven”.  But perhaps a better memorial to the son of the famed blues guitarist is this young talent from Cambridge, Ontario, who has been making an impression on the blues world since he was a pre-teen.

Conor Gains could be called the Mozart of the blues, because, like Amadeus, he was a child prodigy who seems to have been born with a natural talent for the music he loves and continues to impress, not only as a guitarist but as a vocalist and songwriter as well.  He has the appetite of a devoted student, an attribute that was always there.  When he was eight, he picked up his father’s guitar and began to play.  He explored his father’s music collection, absorbing the skills of guitar greats that included not only Clapton but Rory Gallagher, Alvin Lee, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix.  Although he is firmly rooted in the blues, his playing and writing explores the best of other genres as well.  In an interview with Erin McCallum for the Toronto Blues Society Newsletter, he said, “Blues is a soulful, creative, extreme right-brained forum to express or evoke emotion – a way of expressing, despite what you are going through, something beautiful.” But through his two album releases to date, “Junction Sessions” and “Run Away With The Night” he stretches the genre to bring in elements of country, rockabilly and reggae.

Conor’s father, like Mozart’s recognized his son’s talent at an early age and in the fall of 2007 he and his journalist father went on a “father and son ‘rock and roll road trip’” which included music venues in Cleveland, Nashville and Memphis.  By this time Conor had already been impressing local Cambridge musicians, participating in blues jams since the age of twelve.  Within a year of the road trip he was playing shows in Ontario and across the continent, including at the Montreal Jazz Festival and Memphis Blues Festival.  He performed with the BB King All stars, in Nashville and Memphis, and was invited by the late Les Paul to join him on stage at New York’s Iridium Jazz Club.

Along the line he has expanded his original trio to an ensemble called The Ramblin’ Moon, that includes horns and a keyboard, allowing him to expand his songwriting and performance to match his growing sophistication as an artist.  He has also left a string of exclamatory praise in his wake.  Craig Laskey, talent buyer at Toronto’s legendary Horseshoe Tavern, said  “Conor was great, Everyone who saw the show is raving about him.”  He’s since become a regular favourite at the venue.  Following Rambli’ Moon’s high energy show to the Montreal Jazz Festival’s main stage in July 2015, Mark Lepage of the Montreal Gazette raved that “Gains brought… the life force of the music.” Grammy Award winner Dan Hill, after co-writing a song with Conor, commented, ” I swear he’s brilliant.”

The Marsh Street Centre attracts an audience that becomes fully engaged with the performance on stage and reflects back to the band the energy they put out.  This will make next weekend’s performance even more special.  It’s bound to be a sold out show, so you’d better check in as soon as you can to purchase tickets at www.marshstreetcentre.com so you don’t miss your chance of to see this shooting star while he’s still in our stratosphere.

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Click on the album cover to check out Conor Gains’ music: