Esquimalt-based blues musician Jason Buie says winning New Artist of the Year at the Maple Blues Awards in Toronto Jan. 15, was a surprise in a room full of Canadian blues greats. Contributed photo

Victoria blues man named Canada’s best new artist

Maple Blues Awards gives top nod to guitarist Jason Buie

On the heels of his third studio album Driftin’ Heart, Esquimalt-based blues musician Jason Buie walked away as New Artist of the Year at the Maple Blues Awards, Jan. 15 in Toronto.

A bit of an ironic title for someone who has been playing music and touring across the country since he finished high school.

“I was really thrilled to win that. There’s not too many artists from the west that have been nominated,” Buie says, pointing to much bigger blues scenes in Toronto and Montreal.

The online vote-based award, from the Toronto Blues Society, recognizes outstanding achievement in the Canadian blues scene. A panel of industry professionals – radio dj’s, music journalists and blues society members – nominated Buie, a single father of twins, who also serves as artistic director for the White Rock Blues Society and Esquimalt Ribfest.

“I had such a great time,” Buie says of the ceremony at Toronto’s Koerner Hall. “I got to present Colin James with the Guitarist of the Year award and chat with him.”

Buie co-wrote much of Driftin’ Heart with his longtime drummer John Hunt, who he calls “a real blues guy” and recorded the bulk of it at Vancouver’s Afterlife Studios, formerly Mushroom Studios. Working in the same room where greats like Heart and AC/DC have laid down tracks, gave the room just the right vibeBuie says, to get a really good sound.

The pair spend much of the year on the road in places like Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon and Red Deer. In Victoria, Buie hits the stage regularly, often at V-Lounge, where he says the hub of the city’s blues scene is these days.

“There’s a good [blues] scene in Victoria,” he says. “Unfortunately there’s not a whole lot of places to play.”

Buie credits the Victoria Blues Society saying they do a fantastic job bringing in out-of-town bands, for Blues Bash and Jazz Fest.

Later this year, Buie will head back into the studio with plans for another album and then to Toronto and Montreal for festival season, where he’ll be the out-of-town act.

“I’ve gotta keep the ball rolling now.”

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

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