Blues hound comes up with some new tricks

Vernon Jazz Club regulars had better rest up this week because legendary harmonica blues man Sherman “Tank” Doucette takes the stage Saturday night.

“We’re going to have a whole lot of fun – I guarantee that,” promises Doucette.

And as his nickname suggests, when Doucette promises, he delivers.

Doucette’s blues quartet is on a mission to keep the dance floor jumping with swing, boogie, Latin and soul.

“What I’m hoping to do is slay them with natural ability instead of volume,” he said.

The show will have a smoother acoustic style and sound, while still bringing the fire to a mix of blues classics and original songs.

Doucette also looks forward to returning to the Vernon Jazz Club.

“I love playing that room,” he said. “I envy them their location, too. We don’t have something like that here in Kelowna. Plus, it’s nice that the (Vernon Jazz Society) has got such a strong following – everybody goes.”

Doucette also hints that the band may have some special guests dropping by.

The quartet features Rob Escott on guitar, Grant Jones on bass and John Modder on drums. They all sing, and will be featured throughout the evening.

Escott and Modder have been playing with Doucette for a couple of years now. With a background mainly in rock, they’ve been learning the blues under Doucette’s expert tutelage.

Jones and Doucette just celebrated their seventh year of playing together.

Born in 1953 into a musical family in North Battleford, Sask., Doucette has been playing music since he was a young boy. By 15, he was on the road, harmonica in hand, headed for Vancouver. It was there that he discovered the Chicago blues style as expressed by legendary blues musicians Muddy Waters, Junior Wells and James Cotton.

Inspired, Doucette began singing and playing in a variety of local blues and rock bands. Over time, he developed his own particular brand of playing, greatly influenced by the late, great Paul Butterfield.

In 1977, Doucette survived a massive explosion in a lumber mill that left him with burns to more than 50 per cent of his body. He spent the next six months recovering in hospital. More determined than ever, Doucette focused his time and energy on his music.

Three years later, he formed his own blues band, Incognito. The band was at the forefront of the Vancouver music scene, recording three independent CDs and touring extensively across Canada.

Over the years, Doucette has shared the stage with a legendary cast of musicians, including John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Sunnyland Slim, Pinetop Perkins and Long John Baldry.

With a “tankful” of CDs already under his belt, Doucette has a brand new release available, Harp & Soul. He wrote nine of the 12 songs, and the CD is receiving airplay on Galaxy Blues Satellite Radio.

Besides a passion for playing harmonica, Doucette also collects the instrument and has more than 350 of them, 50 of which date back to circa 1910.

Sherman Doucette is at the Vernon Jazz Club (above Nolan’s Pharmasave downtown) Saturday. An all-ages matinee starts at 3 p.m. (Admission is $5 at the door). The adults-only concert starts at 8 p.m. (Tickets are $17 and $12 for VJS members, available at the Bean to Cup and Bean Scene.

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