Kelowna blues harpist/singer Sherman Doucette returns to the Vernon Jazz Club with his Tankful of Blues

Kelowna blues harpist/singer Sherman Doucette returns to the Vernon Jazz Club with his Tankful of Blues

Sherman Doucette and his Tankful of Blues blow through Vernon

Vernon Jazz Society welcomes Kelowna harmonica player Doucette and 16-year-old boogie woogie piano whiz Brandon Schmor, Saturday.

Beat the February chill when electrifying master bluesman of the harmonica Sherman “Tank” Doucette and his Tankful of Blues heats up the stage at the Vernon Jazz Club Saturday.

Tankful of Blues terrific line-up includes Cole Leaver on guitar, Grant Jones on bass, and John Modder on the drums.

Doucette brings his usual high energy “blues on fire” style to the fans.

“Mostly we like to keep it cooking but we do add a few ballads midstream to cool things down a little,” said Doucette.

But don’t expect to relax too much.

“I purposely try to change the feels – rumba, shuffle, swing, funky soul, slow blues – so the audience and the band don’t get bored,” explained Doucette.

Doucette – but not fans – was shocked by his 2011 win as Best Local Musician/Music Group by Okanagan Life Magazine.

“I’m blown away because I never put my name in the hat; they just picked me. When you hear that, you sort of expect a person to be able to read and write music – I just know how to make people feel good,” said Doucette.

Since their last visit, Doucette and the band has opened for Eric Burdon, John Mayall, Johnny Winter, and the Downchild Blues Band’s 40th anniversary.  They also performed at the 2011 Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival.

Born into a musical family in North Battleford, Sask., Doucette has been playing music since he was a young boy.

“I remember going back home to spend Christmas with my family and listening to some of my mom’s old records like Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Mahalia Jackson, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin,” Doucette recalled. “My dad was more country and it made me realize how interconnected jazz, blues, and even rock ‘n’ roll are.”

On the road by age 15, Doucette took his harmonica to Vancouver, discovering the Chicago blues style as expressed by legendary blues musicians Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, and James Cotton.

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

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. His determination to recover earned him his nickname “Tank.”

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

A talented composer, Doucette’s recent CD, Blowin’ Through Town, features his original compositions.

“My ideas for songs come mostly in 3D. I kind of get the song all at once, out of the blue: first the title, then the feel, and then the key. The lyrics come from my own experiences, mostly the fun ones,” laughed Doucette.

Opening for Doucette at 7:15 p.m. is Brandon Schmor, a 16-year-old singer-songwriter and boogie-woogie piano player extraordinaire.

The Vernon teen, who last year placed third in the local Our Kids Have Talent competition,  is returning to the jazz club after wowing the audience on New Year’s Eve when he opened for Kath and the TomKats.

Doucette and his Tankful of Blues take the stage Saturday at 8 p.m. The Vernon Jazz Club is located at 3000-31st St. above Nolan’s Pharmasave, downtown. Tickets are $20 ($15 for jazz society members), available at the Bean Scene and Bean to Cup coffee houses.