SUBMITTED BY ARTSPRING
As one of Australia’s top 50 greatest guitarists of all time, according to Australian Guitar Magazine, blues artist Lloyd Spiegel has been touring since age 11, has 10 albums to his name, and decades of experience on the road touring Europe, the United States and New Zealand.
Somewhere he’s never been? Salt Spring Island. Or British Columbia, for that matter. So it was with great excitement he joined Canadian blues icon Suzie Vinnick to set out on their colourful tour of our own West Coast outback. In addition to Salt Spring, tour stops include Bowen Island, Hornby, Nanaimo, Victoria and more, before heading out to Ontario.
“I’ve been to Canada before and was struck by the themes of kindness, stunning views, and of course, comedy,” Spiegel smiles. “Naturally, I Google places I’m headed to, and when I saw Salt Spring Island, I had one of those moments where I felt so blessed to do what I do. It just looks so beautiful. That, and I know Harry Manx lives there!”
For Juno-nominated Vinnick, she played the Tree House Cafe years ago, but has since gone on to win 10 Maple Blues Awards, one Canadian Folk Music Award and twice won the International Songwriting Competition – Blues Category. She is thrilled to be back.
This marks the first time the duo has worked together, although plans were in the works since pre-pandemic days because of their mutual respect. While they play their own sets, audiences can expect a rollicking jam together by the end of the show.
“Musically, Lloyd and I are both blues-based but appreciate and work other styles into our music,” said Vinnick. “For me, I’m known for folk and blues, but I incorporate a little jazz, a little rock, a little country to shake things up.”
Spiegel agreed. “One of the most common things I hear from people is ‘I’m not into blues, but I love your music.’ I always take that to mean some people have preconceived ideas of what blues music is and that my show challenged and changed that idea. I love breaking stereotypes.”
Both artists are serious about their influences and inspirations. With parents who were blues lovers, Spiegel was just nine when he started going to blues jams and by 13 was touring Australia.
“I was invited to meet Brownie McGhee in California when I was 16. He was my all-time blues hero so I was on the first possible flight out.”
Before long, Spiegel would grow up to support the likes of Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and Etta James, as well as developing his own commanding voice and sound.
With her sultry voice, sassy style, and impressive guitar and bass chops, Vinnick is circumspect when asked about playing blues as a woman.
“There have been many female artists performing blues over the years – Bessie Smith, Koko Taylor, Bonnie Raitt and more,” said Vinnick. “In my early days, I tended to see more male performers but in these past few years, many more young women are embracing singing, playing, and writing blues and other styles of music.”
Another signature approach the duo shares is their love of bringing storytelling, humour and a playfulness to their performances. Spiegel enjoys telling quirky stories of being on the road, and with the people he has met so far in Canada, he promises his stories have just gotten even funnier.
“I could do a whole show of what Canadians in one province say about Canadians in another province.”
Saskatoon-born Vinnick knows all too well. She also likes to keep things loose, lively and impromptu.
“I may perform Save Me for Later, the Lonnie Mack song Oreo Cookie Blues, a heart-felt ballad like Drift Away, or the rollicking I Need a Cowboy,” she winked. “You never know.”
What also is not known is if Australian’s guitar legend will get his wish.
“I hope Mr. Manx reads this, and that he feels like coming for a jam!”
After their show on Sunday, Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at ArtSpring, Vinnick and Spiegel will be back at ArtSpring on Monday at 3 p.m. to host a free musicians’ workshop for the community.