Blues band forges on, with or without radio play
by Blaine Meller
It’s quite the conundrum. Rock radio executives won’t play you because they say your sound is too blues, and blues radio stations won’t play you because your sound is too rock. So what’s a band supposed to do? If you are Calgary-based Bluessmyth, you stay the course. The blues trio, comprised of brothers Jason and Chris Yaholkoski and Celene Yohemas, plans to do exactly that, and you can hear the “blues fusion” on their latest release, Sola Gratia. Released in 2009, Sola Gratia is not your typical blues album, but that shouldn’t be surprising considering Bluessmyth isn’t your typical blues band.
From the heavily rock and slide-guitar laden sounds of “Down on My Luck” to “Rosemary’s Blues,” a ballad dealing with drug addiction, Bluessmyth is showing they are not afraid to make the music they want to. “We’re not really genre-specific,” explained Yohemas, the band’s percussionist. “We are not a triedand- true blues band, nor are we a tried-and-true rock band.” That sound may not get them played on mainstream radio, but it does allow them the freedom to explore different styles, sounds and topics, especially during the writing process.
One prime example of that is “Rosemary’s Blues,” a song that took nearly a year to write. It’s also one of the songs the band is most proud of. “We want to write songs people will remember us by,” said bassist Jason Yaholkoski. “Rosemary is one of those songs. Once we had the initial riff, we added the bass and then expanded from there. We worked on the lyrics alone for over three months,” he said. The band’s live show also continues to evolve. Yaholkoski said they “really want to engage the fans” and become more interactive in how they present their songs.
“We want to focus more on the stories we want to tell, and how we are going to present those stories in a live show,” he said. Both Yohemas and Yaholkoski have strong feelings on a lot of the popular music being released today, whether it be from teen idols, rap moguls or well established stars. One of the words they used to describe a lot of today’s music is “organic.”
And while adapting their sound to become more radio friendly has been a topic of discussion, for the time being, that’s just not going to happen. “We want to attract a greater following, but in a more meaningful way,” said Yaholkoski. “People are so bombarded with some of this crap being released today, they either buy into it or a light goes on and they ask why am I listening to this?” The band is slowly starting to work on their next album, which they expect to release in 2012. Until then, they will continue to write, tour, and work on their newest project, a multimedia show aimed at junior high and high school students. The band is working with a local director to develop the show during which topics like bullying, self-confidence, addictions and making good choices will be presented.
“We’ve been really talking about this upcoming dialogue and what we really want to achieve with it,” said Yohemas. “We want to talk about what scares these kids, about bullying and how people make you feel. We want them to see how the choices they make affect other people,” she said. For more information on Bluessmyth, go to Bluessmyth.com.