By Andrew Ross
"You have to inhale if you want to exhale," says University of Calgary music professor Victor Coelho. It should come as no surprise that Coelho sounds a little cocky; after all, he is the man behind the Rooster Blues Band, the newest blues band on campus. The band’s first performance is on Oct. 20 at the Rosza Centre, entitled You See Blues.
Despite its unfortunate moniker, the concert promises to be an evening of high-calibre musical entertainment.
The idea of the Rooster Blues Band came out of the need for a popular music band at the U of C. Course enrollments and directives in the Department of Music comprise a growing proportion of popular music, yet this genre has not been receiving the same sort of recognition as others, especially classical music.
Coelho regards this lack of recognition as unfortunate, especially in light of the quality of the popular music scene in Calgary.
"We have some of the best musicians in town that are coming and sitting in with us," Coelho explains. "A lot of the graduates we’ve had over the years have been making their livelihood as performers in the musical infrastructure of Calgary and other cities, whether it’s Toronto or Vancouver."
The band is composed of U of C professors and graduates, as well as other local musicians. Coelho hopes the band will thus act as "a bridge between the academic stuff that we do and the musical community out there."
Although most people may not recognize the names of the artists on the bill, there is a lot of talent and experience there. For example, Department of Art professor Paul Woodrow learned his craft in the Leeds blues revival scene of the 1960s. Woodrow has appeared on the same bill as Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts before the Rolling Stones formed. The Rooster Blues Band’s bass player Doug Gelley is also a member of the local reggae group Struggla. The bill represents a broad spectrum, with everything from Gelley’s reggae background to Coelho’s renaissance lute and even a harpist, Nick Twyman.
In addition to being the premier appearance of the Rooster Blues Band, You See Blues will feature the first public performance of the U of C’s newly commissioned campus song, "Take Me There." Both gospel and blues versions of the song, penned by fine arts profs William Jordan and Clem Martini, will be presented by the Roosters.
"[The] song could be dealt with in many different styles, and so it could really be used for all the different kinds of uses that the university might want to do," says Coelho.