Don’t look for a lazy acoustic Friday evening in Oak Bay when Terry Robb is in town. He and special guests The Blue Hearts plan to rock the place.
“We’re going to have a lot of fun, there’s going to be a lot of energy,” Robb said in a phone interview while travelling. “It’s not going to be laid back acoustic stuff we’re going to be rockin’.”
Robb and cohorts aren’t unkown in these parts. He performs a lot with David Vest and Big Hank Lionhart who along with Mark “Westcoast” Comerford, both members of Uncle Wiggly’s Hot Shoes Blues Band, make up The Blue Hearts.
In fact he was in the audience a few years ago when “Hank and David were doing a Christmas show and David called me up on stage.”
They’ve performed together on both sides of the US/Canada border since then.
It’s not a hardship for Robb, who lives in Portland but maintains Canadian citizenship. He and wife Katie love to hit Victoria for fun. They visit Beacon Hill Park and James Bay, places of his youth – when his grandfather had a barbershop “by where Eatons used to be”, grandmother was an antique appraiser and mom worked at the legislative buildings.
“I love Victoria and my wife likes it too, we come up there at least once a year even if I’m not working. It’s a great getaway for us it’s kind of like going to Europe without the hassle,” Robb says. “I always tell people you gotta have chips from Canada it’s the best.”
He’s working this trip though, promising a half and half show of classics and originals in his signature style.
Incorporating elements from the Mississippi Delta music tradition, ragtime, country, swing and jazz, Robb has built a unique blues sound. Robb was born in Vancouver and raised in the U.S. he achieved greatness at an early age, performing with Ramblin’ Rex of Frank Zappa, Canned Heat’s Henry Vestine and steel string guitar icon John Fahey. Fahey still makes an appearance in every show.
“I always throw in a Fahey song because I worked with John Fahey for a long time and it’s fun to play,” Robb says.
In fact, he and Fahey made an Oprah list. “The Holly and The Ivy,” from Popular Songs of Christmas & New Year’s (1983) by Fahey with Robb, was named among O Magazine’s “20 songs to keep the Yuletide fresh” last November. A duet recording of guitar instrumentals performed by Fahey and Robb, the album is the third of eight Fahey albums produced by Robb.
“The Holly and the Ivy” is selected as one of 5 “Best Songs for Christmas Brunch.” And the duo are in good company, among the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Smokey Robinson and Albert King.
While Christmas is over, Robb brings that blend of his love of traditional plus four decades of work for an audience. “When I’m playing solo I try to do a few things from all those albums,” he says. “I like to bring it all.”
Robb with special guest The Blue Hearts perform Friday, Jan. 12 at the Upstairs Lounge at Oak Bay Recreation Centre. Tickets, $20 to $25 are available at the centre, Ivy’s Bookshop, or online at www.beaconridgeproductions.com.
Robb plays in Duncan on Thursday prior to the Oak Bay show, and a Sooke house concert on Saturday. Learn more and get a tastes of the music at terryrobb.com and thebluehearts.ca.
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