Jimmy Bowskill may still be in high school, but he has
proven himself to be one of Canada’s most prominent musicians and
singers. The 18-year-old has astounded everyone from The Allman Brothers
Band founder Dickey Betts to ZZ Top’sBilly Gibbons and Canadian icons
Colin James and the late Jeff Healey.
self-titled third album is evidence of how this Toronto native is
forging an original blues-rock sound, not unlike Cream or the Black
Crowes did in their time.
“I think it’s coming back around,” says Jimmy, noting the cyclical
nature of the music business. “My friends at school listen to Zeppelin
and the Crowes. People want to hear that stuff again.”
From the swampy first single, “Diamond Ring,” powerhouse “Far From
Reality” and solo-injected “Rattle Snake Shake” to the trippy “Drifting
Haze” and reggae-based “Black Sea Star,” Jimmy is the guy to kick-start
the next cycle. “Nine” is a minstrel-y instrumental, in the vein of
Zeppelin’s “Black Mountain Side” and “The Kara Dog” is an electrifying
“I just wrote a bunch of songs and the music progressed into more of a
rock feel,” says Jimmy.
Jimmy seemed destined to be a musician. Born in Toronto on the same day
as B.B. King, he was raised in Peterborough, Ontario in a household
filled with the music of Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and
While he played hockey from the age of 3, once he picked up the guitar
at 10, he put everything he had into mastering the instrument. Like any
kid of the nineties, he could’ve been inspired by Nirvana or Radiohead,
but instead he was drawn to the blues.
“It just seemed so real,” explains Jimmy. “It’s just a really soulful
music and it comes straight from the heart. There’s nothing used to hide
anything. It’s just straight up.”
A year after first picking up the guitar, he convinced his father to
drive him to downtown Toronto to meet Jeff Healey at the legendary
guitarist’s original blues club. Busking on the sidewalk, Jeff came
outside to witness this kid prodigy and personally invited him in for a
jam session. In 2002, Jimmy released his first CD, Old Soul, a mix of
covers and originals that earned him international attention. “It’s a
neat thing to have,” says Jimmy of the album he made at age 11.
With the follow-up album, 2005’s Soap Bars & Dog Ears, Jimmy began to
come into his own, developing a rock edge now evident on his third
album. “The first one is straight-up traditional blues and a bit of
jazz, and the second one got into rock a little more, but is still
pretty traditional,” says Jimmy, whose sophomore album earned a Juno
Award nomination for blues album of the year.
Jimmy now performs about a hundred concerts a year, while still wrapping
up his last year at Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational School, a
high school with an integrated arts program focused on drama, music and
visual arts. “My teachers really help me out,” says Jimmy.
He recorded the new album at various studios with co-producer Peter
Prilesnik (Big Sugar, Ashley MacIsaac), beginning last spring with
bed-tracks at Metalworks Studios in Mississauga, ON. “He brought in a
modern approach to the music. He uses recording methods I would not
normally considered for my music,” Jimmy enthuses.
Of “Diamond Ring" Bowskill simply says “It just saying, ‘Here I am."
“Rattle Snake Shake” is a song long tested in his live show, while the
rocker “The Kara Dog” is “the drum solo song” that went through 20
different versions, including cool jazz. He wrote “Nine” on the bank of
the Otonabee River in Peterborough, chilling out with his guitar and
“threw in the tablas” in the studio. A huge fan of Bob Marley and Peter
Tosh, “Black Sea Star” is the first reggae song he’s ever recorded and
“Far From Reality” is about his love of sitting in his room listening to
his growing collection of vinyl records.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. The current album
really reflects who I am at this moment, the same way the first and
second albums reflect who I was when they were recorded. I don’t know
what the next album will be, but I’m sure that it won’t be the same
either, and that’s great! It shows that I’m growing and evolving as a
musician. "says Bowskill.
Instrumentation Jimmy Bowskill - lead vocals, guitar, piano
Wayne Deadder - bass
Dan Neill - drums
Jimmy Bowskill, Old Soul - released June 2003
Jimmy Bowskill, Soap Bars & Dog Ears - released September 2004
Jimmy Bowskill, Jimmy Bowskill- released March 18/08