Singing the blues all the way to the WCMA
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 06:00 am
A Sturgeon County singer is trying to stay grounded in the middle of the current buzz for the Western Canadian Music Awards running October 3 to 6.
Jared Sowan, 39, is the new lead singer for the blues nominated Jimmy and the Sleepers. Not only is the band in contention with Donald Ray Johnson, Jack Semple, James “Buddy” Rodgers and No Sinner, but they are also performing at Breakout West, the award’s conference and music festival.
Since the award ceremony and festivities are in Calgary, the band opted to host an Edmonton-area celebration at LB’s Pub on Saturday, Sept. 28. Maple Blues nominated keyboardist Graham Guest opens the evening at 8 p.m.
Interestingly, Sowan is far less focused on lobbying for an award than performing at the music festival. The ruggedly handsome vocalist sang for Jimmy and the Sleepers on and off for the past three years.
Last year after lead singer Alex Varughese landed a project in Los Angeles, Sowan stepped up to the mike. However, it was Varughese who sang the vocals on Jimmy and the Sleepers nominated album, C’est La Vie.
“I’m very excited to showcase our talents as a whole. I have a real kinship with everyone in the Sleepers. We joke. We laugh. When I’m on stage, I’m high energy. I really enjoy being on stage. That’s where I shine. It’s not about the praise. It’s nice to hear, but it’s about the show and people committed to making good music,” said Sowan.
Band founder Jimmy Guiboche noted that in his eyes, Sowan is probably Edmonton’s strongest blues singer.
“He’s the real deal, an old school gospel singer. His father was a minister and he has a natural flair singing for Jesus. His voice is powerful and he has a southern gospel delivery.”
Heavily involved in People’s Church, Sowan’s parents frequently imported to tier gospel singers. From a young age, he developed a symbiotic relationship with gospel and blues.
“I played piano at three and I hated it. Then I turned 14 and I realized girls liked it and then it was a different story. It gave me incentive,” laughed the multi-instrumentalist who also plays guitar, bass and drums.
Sowan credits Guiboche’s mentorship and thorough understanding of the blues as the bedrock for The Sleepers continued successes.
The first big gig he performed with the band was the 2012 Memphis Blues Challenge.
“We didn’t make it but the experience was phenomenal and that’s when we gelled.”
Jimmy and the Sleepers are already working towards their next album and they’ve just released an online version of their new single Cryin’ In My Shoes with Sowan on vocals.
As for LB’s concert, a mix of Texas and Chicago blues, Guiboche said, “We’re going to put on a killer blues show with lots of energy. We are going to turn the place into a St. Albert juke joint. It’s going to be a “natural ball” as T-Bone Walker would say.”
Tickets are $12 and are available at LB’s Pub and Edmonton’s Blackbyrd Myoozik.