It’s time once again for another evening at the Sooke Folk Music Society’s Monthly Coffee House. But before getting into who is coming, we want to take a moment to thank all of you who came out to support our benefit concert on Feb. 4 for Bobbi-jo Peterson. It was a wonderful night of music and love.
This Saturday’s coffee house is featuring Willy Blizzard, from Vancouver. Willy Blizzard is the brainchild of long time Vancouver musician John Hough, who formed the group with guitarist Fran Madigan and bassist Andrea Law last year.
Fran Madigan plays electric and acoustic guitar and banjo. His vocal talent was recognized early when he was offered a place in the St. Michael’s Choir School (Toronto) and subsequently trudged the streets of Toronto hoofing it to Royal Conservatory piano exams. As a teenager, he blew it all when he purchased a Hammond B3 organ and joined an R & B band in order to get a girlfriend.
Andrea Law is the rhythm section, and is the only respectable member of the band. She is a third generation musician proud to dedicate her music to her late father, Thomas Law, a classical and regimental percussionist.
The trio’s unusual name “Willy Blizzard” comes from an old friend of her family back in her Ottawa days. Andrea adds background vocals, and is increasingly attached to her washboard.
Willy Blizzard is fronted by lead vocalist John Hough who has shared the stage with David Rea, Jesse Winchester, and Canada’s beloved Valdy. John’s former Celtic band Under The Moss brought his warm baritone vocals to wider audiences when his band was the feature at the Expo 86 Folklife pavilion.
Willy Blizzard is riding a musical journey that literally spans the decades, even the centuries. Their 2010 album In From the Cold conveys the emotional depth of a songwriter who is so earth-centered he actually holds a degree in Agriculture.
John’s public performance history began at age four in Toronto when he gave an impromptu, but well received, performance of Kawliga in McGirvens Grocery Store. He won his first official singing contest at age 18 at the old Caribou Club in Toronto, where he was privileged to play with Bob Lucier and Johnny Burke.
Willy Blizzard’s album In From The Cold is essential Americana. Its rich detail has met with generous praise from press and critics both in Canada and Europe. The last year has found Willy Blizzard enchanting audiences on tour in Western Canada, making appearances at festivals such as Kaslo Folk Festival, Desert Daze and sharing the bill with artists like Linda McRae, Romi Mayes, Andrea Ramolo and Dustin Bentall.
As the principal songwriter for Willy Blizzard, Hough’s music has garnered airplay on many CBC Radio programs like North By Northwest, Morningside (Peter Gzowski), The Early Edition, Vicki Gabereau, Folksounds (KBCS).
John’s musical history includes many TV and movie placements. The song Eamonn An Cnoic was purchased by Gordon Lightfoot for use in the feature film Harry Tracey starring Bruce Dern.
A true nature lover since long before the contemporary environmental movement took hold, John’s academic background in biology deeply informs his songwriting. Few writers can authentically utilize lyrics like symbiotic parasite in their work. (“Hallie”).
Bringing along his beloved Martin D18 and his trusty Sada to earlier careers as a canoeing instructor and outdoor education instructor, John has also served as a very popular teacher of math and science to generations of guitar-loving teens. In Willy Blizzard, right brain meets left brain to sustain an enduring encounter through music.
Please join us this Saturday, Feb. 18, at Holy Trinity Anglican Church on Murray Road. Doors open at 7 p.m., open stage at 7:30 and our feature at 9.