Oct. 17, 2012 - Issue #887: Dedfest
Rural life on the vast Saskatchewan prairies is rich with country undertones, but Jack Semple caught the blues bug early on and hasn't been cured—not that he would want to be.
Semple, who was recently awarded a Diamond Jubilee Medal for his work, caught on to guitar thanks to his older brothers and soon moved to formal lessons. He studied a variety of styles before discovering the blues, and particularly BB King, whose music seemed to speak directly to him. After a stint in Toronto with The Lincolns, Semple returned to Regina, SK to raise a family, but the music hasn't stopped. Despite the difficulties of continuing a music career, which Semple says is no easy task no matter what city you live in, he's made a lucrative living touring and doing commercial music work.
"It's not a standard career being an artist, but with technology the way it is —Internet technology—I do recording sessions for people all over North America, so it doesn't matter as much where you live," Semple notes, adding there's still the need to be seen and heard to continue. "It's like any small business. You have to be creative and diverse and you have to stay positive, but the bottom line is I'm doing what I love to do."
This drive and love for music has translated into Semple's latest album Into The Blue Light, a disc steeped in jazz, blues and funk that showcases a transition back to a full band, which Semple had forgone on his previous four recordings in favour of an acoustic sound.
"It's a culmination of where my heart's at, what kind of music really matters to me and what kind of music naturally comes out of me," Semple says, citing James Brown as a major stylistic influence. "One of the goals I had was to write music that a full band can play, and also, when you have a drummer there's a lot more rhythmical possibilities than when you're by yourself."
Another focus of Into The Blue Light was improving his skills as a songwriter. Semple is known first for his guitar playing prowess, but he says he never wants to stagnate or be satisfied with the skills he already has. Semple turns to the likes of Joni Mitchell and John Lennon for lyrical inspiration and made crafting well-written songs his mission.
"I spent three years writing tunes for this CD and for me my natural talent is guitar playing and my natural talent is not songwriting," he admits. "That was the big goal, to create some songs that could stand on their own ... That was the big goal and I think to a large extent, I succeeded."
Fri, Oct 19 – Sat, Oct 20 (9 pm)
Jeffrey's Cafe and Wine Bar, $35
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