June 17, 2024


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Interview with Lyle Odjick: It would be awesome if blues and rock n roll were still ruling the airwaves

Interview with Blues harp player Lyle Odjick. An interview by email in writing. He is just a storyteller, a young man with no views on his own channel.

JazzBluesNews.com: – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

Lyle Odjick: – I grew up on an Algonquin Reservation called Kitigan Zibi in Quebec about 1.5h North of Ottawa. My first experience playing music on stage was at the age of 26 when I decided, on a whim, to enter an Ottawa blues harmonica competition at the last minute..

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

I heard an ad on the radio about 2 weeks before the competition and something in my gut told me if I don’t enter this competition I will regret it for the rest of my life. So here I am at the venue introducing myself to the organizer and other harp players, and I quickly notice all the other players have cases full of harps, where as I only have one. At this point I have never played with a band, or in public or even ever sang a note in my life that wasn’t along to the radio. I’m expected to sing and front man award winning Ottawa locals MonkeyJunk for 4 songs in front of a sold out bar, I have never been more scared in my life. My time to perform comes, I walk on stage shortly after being introduced as a complete rookie to playing live music, I take a deep breath and as the band kicked off into a shuffle I proceed to sing and blow my heart out. As the first song ends, the stage lights brighten to illuminate me and all I see is the silhouette of the entire crowd rise to their feet in applause and cheers. As I look out upon the appreciative crowd, sweat dripping off my nose and blinded by stage lights, I knew then and there that this is what I am meant to be doing with my life. Though I did not win the competition it set me on a path with the goal of becoming a full-time musician. After 8 years of developing my craft and building up a bit of a reputation I have recently left my full-time 40+ hour a week day job in construction to take my music career to the next level.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

LO: – My sound has definitely evolved over time – When I first began teaching myself harmonica more seriously I was listening to everything from Muddy Waters that I could get my hands on. Hearing the amplified harmonica played the way it was on many of Muddy’s songs had me hooked from the start, I had to sound like that. From there I started studying some of Muddy’s players such as Little Water and James Cotton, these two had that Chicago blues tone and sound that I was chasing. The other contributing factor to the natural development of my own sound was growing up in a household where Rock n Roll was played almost around the clock. Growing up with a big love for hard rock bands like AC/DC has most likely contributed to my attack and aggressive playing style on the harp.

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

LO: – To continue to development of my harp playing I now force myself to play in as many different styles, tempos and rhythms as possible to continue to grow outside of my comfort zone. Another harp exercise I do is practicing playing in different positions, something maybe only harp players will get, the main three I practice in are First, Second, and Third. As a front man I also have to keep my vocals sharp, to improve upon these I’ll test myself by singing music in different genres or attempt to match some notes that I hear much more skilled singers than I executing.

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

LO: – Considering that my first experience actually playing music with and in front of people was only 8 years ago I have changed drastically. Stepping up my playing and performance level with each stage appearance I’ve gone from a natural with a good instinct to a commanding force on the harp that grabs the audience at will and doesn’t let go until I’m good and done. As vocalist, through hard work and perseverance, I have gone from being “tone def” to being able to sing in a variety of keys while still constantly improving and discovering the potential of my voice. I have grown from a shy, stage frightened quite voice to a stage presence of pure confidence, high energy and swagger. I have definitely evolved – from an eager blues boy to a man, dare I say, a Hoochie Coochie Man.

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JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

LO: – Soul provides the delivery and conviction, while intellect provides a larger vocabulary for the soul’s delivery.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

LO: – Personally I’ve grown to love the energy exchange between performer and audience. The whole point of music is to feel, especially in blues, so for the audience to experience the emotion of the song, the performer has to deliver it with conviction.

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in blues when most of standard tunes are half a century old?

LO: – I’m hoping that some of the new blood in blues delivering the music with intensity and a modern flare will attract new similar aged listeners once they have an opportunity to experience it live. Artists like Larkin Poe, Samantha Fish and Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram (just to name a few) are in great positions to help bring in some new aged fan base.

JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?

LO: – I see the spirit as the driver behind the wheel of the body vehicle that allows us to feel alive. The goal is to feel alive, be alive and experience this thing called life.

JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?

LO: – It would be awesome if blues and rock n roll were still ruling the airwaves.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?

LO: – Always a variety of artists, mostly within blues and rock. A few others just off the top of my head: Larkin Poe, Danielle Nicole and Mike Ledbetter whom I never had the opportunity to meet before his passing.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?

LO: – I would go to the early days of Chicago blues, to a club that featured a double header of Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf, for the simple reason of getting to witness my heroes in action all in one spot in the prime of their health.

JBN: – Do You like our questions?

LO: – reat questions, definitely a few thinkers.

Interview by Simon Sarg

Note: https://jazzbluesnews.com/2023/03/19/useu-jazz-blues-association-festivals/ You can express your consent and join our association, which will give you the opportunity to perform at our Jazz and Blues festivals, naturally receiving an appropriate royalty. We cover all expenses. The objectives of the interview are: How to introduce yourself, your activities, thoughts and intellect, and make new discoveries for our US/EU Jazz & Blues Association, which organizes festivals, concerts and meetings in Boston and various European countries, why not for you too!! You can read more about the association here. https://jazzbluesnews.com/2022/11/19/useujba/

Matinée Café: Lyle Odjick Band and The Northern Steam | Shenkman Arts Centre

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