Originally from the hills of rural Quebec, now based in
Toronto, Brian "Colorblind" Blain has been performing his
unique brand of slow-cooked, solid-groove folk blues for more than 40 years
- soulful, thoughtful, always entertaining.
Brian 'Colorblind' Blain has just released his first CD. Titled Who Paid You
to Give Me the Blues, the recording highlights the songwriting talents - as
well as the guitar playing - of a musician who, as the saying goes, has been
around. In the 60s and 70s Blain was a bass sideman for folk artists Dave
Nichol, Lewis Furey and Fraser & Debolt. Later he switched to guitar and was
a member of Blue Willow. These days Blain concentrates his energies and
talents performing the blues at clubs and festivals all around the city.
Backing Blain up is Rod 'B3' Phillips on organ, Victor Bateman, bass and
Mike Fitzpatrick on the skins. And he is joined on this CD by Scott Cushnie,
the 'Professor of Piano', who lays down some great barrelhouse riffs on
"Computer Club Queen," and Eugene Hardy whose sax solos pop up strategically
here and there, especially on "Vulcan Heart," Blain's homage to Star Trek.
Most of the songs are based on traditional blues styles, from gritty,
hard-edged pieces like "The Y2K Blues" (I got that low down feelin'/With
these high-tech blues) to the cowboy blues story of the "Outlaw of
Megantic." There's only one real surprise, that's the ballad "The Big Fire"
on which Blain gently picks out the melody on his electric while switching
between English and French lyrics.
Blain himself, as a songwriter and a singer, is not what you'd call ballsy.
His style of blues is more middle-class, with a touch of humour, as in the
double entendre lyrics "she's gotta good lookin' main frame." His blues
develop from the everyday and commonplace as in "Worry, Worry" or
"Entrepreneurial Blues" about the hassles of running your own business.
Blain's voice lends itself well to the subjects of his songs. It's clear and
clean enough to allow the listener to catch all the lyrics. But it's not the
gritty growl that you might expect from looking at his photo. Perhaps his
gentle 'buddha' image is earned. A treat to hear for anyone appreciating
witty lyrics and good blues.