Guitarist Jeff Healey releases his first blues/rock album in eight years
Canadian-born musician takes classic blues and rock material to new destinations in energy-packed sessions with “the best damned bar band in the land.
Jeff Healey, arguably one of the most distinctive guitar players of our time, is releasing his first blues/rock album in eight years — a bustling, bright collection of tunes he’s titled Mess of Blues.
The CD is being released internationally by the German blues label, Ruf Records, and in Canada by Edmonton-based roots music company, Stony Plain.
Mess of Blues will be available in Europe on March 20, and in the United States and Canada on April 22. The album was recorded late last year with the musicians who regularly accompany the guitarist at Jeff Healey’s Roadhouse in Toronto. Two tracks, in fact, were recorded at the club, and two more were cut at a concert in London, England.
The Jeff Healey Blues Band was formed as a “house band” to accompany guests who sit in when Healey plays the club that carries his name, and to meet the ongoing international demand for the artist’s powerful and unusual guitar work. The guitarist calls his group “the best damned bar band in Canada”, and it consists of Dave Murphy on keys (he also sings on two cuts), bassist Alec Fraser (who co-produced the record with Healey), Dan Noordermeer on guitar and Al Webster on drums.
“Making this record is a chance to introduce the band to wider international audiences and give some great songs a new and fresh lease on life”, says Healey. "Choosing the songs for the new CD was easy", he says. “For the most part they’re tunes that get the best response when we play them live, either on tour or at home in the club.”
Classics like “The Weight”, “Jambalaya”, “How Blue Can You Get”, and “Shake Rattle and Roll” are all marked by Healey’s innovative and sparkling guitar work. Adds Healey: “I’m really grateful to Ruf Records for giving me the opportunity to show people that my respect for the blues remains as strong as ever, as does the commitment we all have to the people who come out to hear us when we play.”
Quick background & biographical information
Healey, now 42, first came to international acclaim in 1988 with his multi-million-selling See the Light album on Arista Records. It was followed by two more releases, 1990’s Hell to Pay and Feel This, released in 1992. Since then there have been two minor releases, the last in 2000, as well as a live CD and video recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and two “best of” compilations of the Arista material. In 2002 he released the first of three albums of classic jazz with the Jeff Healey Jazz Wizards, the classic jazz group with which he plays trumpet as well as guitar.
The most recent Healey jazz record — a 2006 collaboration with British trombonist Chris Barber — was released internationally on Stony Plain, which has also reissued the first two jazz CDs. The Jazz Wizards are currently completing another jazz CD for the label, set for release later this year.
Blind since early childhood, Jeff picked up his first guitar when he was three and began to play it flat across his lap, “accidentally” devising the revolutionary technique that became his signature style. He played his first gigs when he was six, and by his teens had played a variety of music in a number of different bands. He had also begun to amass a formidable record collection — he now has well over 30,000 78-rpm records, in addition to thousands of CDs and tapes — and later created a CBC Radio show, which he named “My Kinda Jazz.” (The programme still continues today on Toronto’s 91.1 JazzFM station).
By the mid-’90s, Healey had played with dozens of musicians, including B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and recorded with George Harrison, Mark Knopfler and the late blues legend, Jimmy Rogers.
A family man with a three-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter, he prefers to stay close to home.
“I’ve traveled widely before — been there and done that”, he says, determined to avoid the lengthy, exhausting tours that marked his life in his twenties and early thirties. Despite this, and an ongoing battle with cancer, he still undertakes two or three European tours a year with the blues band and earns ear-splitting applause — and enthusiastic critical response — whenever he plays.
On stage, he remains a charismatic figure, at ease and always ready with a laugh, and his musical skills have matured in a way that he could not have imagined when he started his musical career.
For further information, please contact:
Stony Plain Records
+49 (0)36087 / 92200
Mark Pucci, MP Media
Ruf Records U.S.