One of Canada's most celebrated bluesmen is coming back to Prince George for a cause close to his heart.
He has been here before as Harpdog Brown. This time he is Harpdog Brown. No longer is it his stage handle, it is now his legal name and he told The Citizen that making that commitment has changed his career path.
"I finalized everything a few months ago and right at that time I started to notice a lot more personal storms where fate came together on my behalf with a number of abundant forces. I think I was sending the universe mixed messages with dual names. It's been amazing."
He hopes to be a storm of fate on behalf of the Association Advocating for Women and Children (AWAC), the local agency running support programs and a shelter for some of Prince George's most vulnerable people.
"I'm an advocate for people who need help but want to help themselves," he said. "The power of the blues is, it's a healing thing, a therapeutic thing. It gave me something to belong to. I was an adopted child, a foster child. I was loved by people but I had no true belonging until the blues came along and I had an identifiable place where I belonged. Without that, who knows who I'd be or where I would have ended up in life. So to use the power of the blues to help and heal and teach is what I want to do. And that goes for any art. Everyone needs an art form that you can do and not think about how much money I can make at it, but get up in the morning to be passionate about something that you want to do, to create, to express yourself, and not have it equate to money or ego. For me the blues is truth. That's the one word for it."
Harpdog has been included in the blues family happiness - Juno Award nominations, international tours, powerful duets, etc. - and also the hard side. Being a touring musician outside the pop mainstream can offer a satisfying living, even be spiritually edifying, but not a life of luxury.
Originally from Alberta, he is now enjoying life in the Vancouver area. He said he fell in love with the Lower Mainland as a child on a family vacation and now he gets to live the B.C. experience which, he added, comes with heaping spoonfuls of blues talent. Part of the reason he loves life so richly now is all the musicians he gets to admire and perform with. A collection of his favourites is coming to Prince George with him for the AWAC benefit concert.
"These guys in my band live on the island. They have a little trio of their own, but under the wing of my blues boss since I was 21, Johnny Hunter, the great drummer. Johnny is coming along, and Jordie Edmonds on guitar, George Fenn on bass, and Harpdog handling the harmonica and vocals.
"These guys are ready to go global," he said.
"They don't have day-jobs or school, all the obstacles in life that get in the way of touring. And that's my plan, global domination. It's not asking too much. I don't want to take advantage of the world, I want to give music and share. So now I have the ship to sail the seven seas."
He sails into Prince George on Saturday night for this special event in support of AWAC. The socializing and live music happens at the Coast Inn of the North's ballroom and includes door prizes, silent auction, hors d'oeuvres, poetry, and opening singer/songwriter Ivan Paquettte. Tickets are available at the Coast Inn front desk, Studio 2880, and the AWAC front desk.