Dec. 19, 2006 - Issue #583: Grinched
Rich Hope has got the one-man blues
After burning back and forth across the landscape for a few years, that band came to an end and Hope set about recording another solo set, the self-titled Rich Hope & his Evil Doers, this time bringing together a set of tracks bridging the gap between literate songs—he draws inspiration for one of them from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road—and a guttural, almost bestial blues grind.
Hope explains that the variance in sounds is natural, since the album was really written in two parts. The acoustic stuff came first, during the period when he was in John Ford trading ideas and records back and forth with the other members. While those initial songs didn’t particularly fit the feel of John Ford, Hope dusted the tracks off when it came time to resume his solo career and he laid them down in a friend’s studio.
At the same time, though, Hope had been listening to a lot of one-chord, trance-inducing Mississippi Hill blues, and he started fooling around with the sound on his acoustic guitar. After transposing those newer songs to the electric guitar, he brought a drummer and bassist into the studio and captured the rest of the tunes in one five-hour session.
Since releasing the album in 2005, Hope has been playing around his home in Vancouver, downsizing his trio to a duo.
“At the moment I’m not using a bass player at all,” he explains. “It’s partially economics, because touring is expensive and I try to make it work any way I can, and partially it’s because I really like the sound right now without a bass player. I really don’t need one, because I’m playing a lot of one-chord blues and I can hold down the root note with my thumb and pick the rest of them with my fingers. I just really like the freedom that I have on the guitar.”
While Hope normally grinds out his bawdy blues style in the guitar and
drums format, he’ll be leaving his drummer at home and performing solo
when he plays here at the Black Dog. That’s not because he felt a
burning need to flex his singer/songwriter muscles—although he does do
that once a month or so around Vancouver. This time out, though, Edmonton is
not just one of many tour stops for Hope. He grew up here and he’s
venturing back this way for the first time in 14 years to visit his relatives
“I was gonna come in the spring, but some of the other dates on the tour didn’t work out, and it just became this huge, long journey to come to Edmonton,” Hope says, remembering the last time he tried to get out here. “So we just postponed it and I thought, ‘well, I’m coming to see my relatives for Christmas, so I’ll play a show while I’m there.’”
Despite stripping things down from electric to acoustic for the show, though, Hope says that the gig won’t be all that different.
“It’s kind of the same,” he laughs, “because I’ll just stomp on the floor with my boot.” V
Sat, Dec 23 (4 pm)
Black Dog, Free
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