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Cold as Ice, but warm as his daddy’s blues

John Lee Hooker Junior spans everything from blues to jazz and R&B in new album Cold as Ice

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Who: John Lee Hooker Junior

When: June 19 & 20

Where: GLC & Bill’s

Tickets: $20

John Lee Hooker Junior touches down in Whistler on his Cold as Ice tour Thursday, July 19 at the Garibaldi Lift Company and Friday, July 20 at Buffalo Bill’s.

“It’s got everything going on: some blues, some jazz, some funk and R&B – a wide variety,” he said of his new album Cold as Ice. “That’s how I grew up; listening to all different types of music. I came up with music around my dad and all the blues legends of yester years; the Nancy Wilsons and Frank Sinatras. I’m a jazz enthusiast as well.”

Junior is son of the late blues legend John Lee Hooker, who died in 2001 at the age of 83, but Junior is soon becoming a legend in his own right. His first solo album Blues with a Vengeance garnered him a 2004 Grammy Award nomination for Best Traditional Blues Album, hopefully his new album will follow suit.

Junior carries on his century-old family musical heritage, building on remakes on his father’s classics Boom, Boom and One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer in Blues with a Vengeance with new tracks such as Do Daddy on Cold as Ice .

“I wrote the song about my dad to give the personal side of him; a lot of people only knew him for his music. I just new him as my daddy,” Junior said. “I wrote it on the personal side of things, like what it was like living under his roof. I called him Do Daddy because he always kept his word.”

As a child, Junior remembers neighbours carrying lunch boxes to work while his daddy carried a guitar case and amplifier. But like all dads, Hooker senior reminded his kids to turn off lights and take the garbage out.

“I miss my dad,” Junior said. “I don’t want his records left behind. I want people to be able to put on a John Lee Hooker Junior album and hear how I feel about him. It’s my memoir to my dad.”

It’s been a long musical road for Junior. Although he was only eight years old when he first hit the radio waves and played alongside guitarist Jimmy Reed in his teens, it wasn’t until almost three decades later that Hooker finally put out a solo album, in 2004. His music career was sidetracked by drugs, alcohol, divorce and incarceration, all life lessons bringing depth and soul to his music.

His music is as rich as the company he has kept on stage, which includes the likes of legends such as BB King, Johnny and Edgar Winter, Lucky Peterson, Bo Diddley, Charlie Musselwhite and Koko Taylor, just to name a few.

Junior is winding down his North American tour in Whistler with two shows. Blues revelers can’t get enough of his smooth ride.

“I see myself growing,” he said. “It’s process then progress. It’s a standard for every writer or creator of music to continue to upgrade because time changes. It’s a competitive industry. It’s been packed houses every night of the tour. People are reviewing the shows and fans are writing, ‘When are you coming back?’ It’s been wonderful.”

Advance $20 tickets are available by calling 604-932-2446.

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