Colin James @ Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium

Colin James
Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Calgary, Alberta
March 3, 2017

Photos Courtesy of Nicki Chang-Powless

The Southern Jubilee Auditorium is such a cushy venue, with brilliant acoustics and every seat has a good line of sight.  My ticket had me sitting on the inside edge of the left side mezzanine section and in an almost empty row.  My two other row mates missed the opening act all together and what a miss.  I have had the pleasure of seeing Colin several times before, once in this very venue when he was touring with the Little Big Band, and his opening acts have never disappointed.

Tami Neilson came out onto a simple stage in her yellow fringe dress with her guitar player and drummer.  It became apparent that her group’s instruments were squashed in front of Colin’s band’s setup but her voice didn’t need space behind her; it most definitely filled the space in front.  The room may have been caught off guard; I certainly had not heard of her even after she explained that she had been singing across Canada with her family since the late 1990’s (the Neilson Family).  She has spent the last decade or so in New Zealand and been winning awards down under for several years.  Her current single “Holy Moses” can be heard on CBC Radio, she announced rather gratefully and “Mama Gone Loco” was a hit with every parent in the crowd.  Her voice is comparable to KD Lang and her deprecating humor stayed on the PG side.  With her blues / jazz / country flavor, this talent is worth searching out.

During the intermission, I took the time to look around the room and noticed I was likely very close to the median age of the room which is a first since writing for The PORTAL; I usually feel like a senior citizen which I am not (yet), but I suppose Colin has been around for a while now too and a little research tells me he is only a month younger than I. 

The band walked out and started as 6 players: Colin’s guitar (or should I say guitars), another guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and harmonica, but about ½ dozen songs in when Colin’s hit song “Why’d You Lie” broke its way into the blues set, the band grew with the addition of a saxophone and then another; so, at eight the blues band was complete.

I didn’t recognize any of the blues tunes that were played over the course of the evening, except for the old Van Morrison tune “Into the Mystic” and a couple older hits: “Just Came Back” and “Keep on Lovin’ Me, Baby,” but the musicians and music were so good and well done, it didn’t matter.  Harmonies were beautiful, solos were plentiful and when Colin’s voice failed him (he announced he was recovering from a cold which is among a singer’s greatest enemies), he went for a lower note or let the audience fill in for him and we all gladly did so.  Colin is living a guitar player’s dream; he didn’t change guitars for every single song, but had I kept count, it likely would have averaged out that way having caught up in the middle with a couple of changes during a song or two to make up for the few times he kept the same guitar in his hand for a second song. 

All in all, a wonderful show and one I would go back to see over and over.  The talent on that stage from start to finish was top drawer amazing!




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