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Playing the blues and lovin' it in Yorkton

The band plans to go public at an open mic night at Tapps Sports Lounge & Grill Feb. 23.
Blues Bus Deluxe a five-piece band that while new has been an idea for years.

YORKTON - When you hear about a new band forming in Saskatchewan you don’t immediately think about them playing the blues.

But if you happen to be in the small community of Willowbrook and you drive by what was once the village hotel and bar on a rehearsal night you will indeed hears the blues emanating from within.

The former bar is the practice space of Blues Bus Deluxe a five-piece band that while new has been an idea for years.

Stacy Blommaert, who plays harmonica and chimes in with vocals with the band explained he has played in various bands for nearly two decades, mostly in Alberta. But, he was coming back to Yorkton, “the whole time I was doing that I was thinking it would be cool to put a blues band together.”

For Blommaert the blues have always sort of been his musical home.

“I was in the blues scene in Edmonton for quite a few years,” he said.

Now back in the Yorkton area Blommaert wanted the blues back.

“The last couple of years I’ve been trying to get the blues back and it’s finally coming to fruition,” he said.

The timing was simply right to make a band happen.

"Now we all have time,” said Blommaert.

As often is the case once someone starts thinking about creating a new band, other musicians tend to pop up from the common interest.

Kelly Goebel is lead guitarist and vocalist with the band.

“I knew a guy,” he said, and suddenly a band was coming together.

One of the ‘finds’ for the forming band was bassist Jim Fulawka, who liked the idea of playing the blues.

“The blues are the roots of all pop music,” he said, adding personally he has found he has “started listening to it more and more.”

And that was ultimately the hook for the band – the music meant something to them.

Drummer Gary Andrychuk has always played music but not the blues, although he noted he had always held an interest in the music.

“I always wanted to feel the blues,” he said.

Then there was a break-up with a girlfriend.

“Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Blues is supposed to make you ‘feel’,” he said.

The core of the band was set, four veteran musicians focusing on a love of the blues, but yet something was missing.

That’s when keyboardist Isreal Goebel joined Blues Bus Deluxe. Younger than his future bandmates by more than two decades, and with little knowledge of the blues, he has proven to be the added ‘sound’ to fill out the overall impact of the band.

“I started playing 12-bar blues about two weeks ago,” said the 21-year-old who has produced his own sound on Spotify as BenjieB’.

While new to the blues, Isreal is filling in the band’s sound.

In terms of sound Andrychuk said the band “needed keyboards to fill it up – to make it bigger and better.”

The band has now been rehearsing for a couple of months, and they are liking what they are producing to the point they plan to go public at an open mic night at Tapps Sports Lounge & Grill in Yorkton on Feb. 23.

“We’ve really got chemistry,” said Andrychuk, adding with a band “you have it, or you don’t . . .

“Every rehearsal we get better and better.”

If the five, or six songs set for the debut fly as well as hoped Fulawka said they’ll be looking for gigs.

Andrychuk said he thinks the band will find interest because they are playing the blues, which is not the usual band fare on the region, and people are looking for something different.

Part of the reason things are coming together so quickly is access to the jam space in the former watering hole in Willowbrook, which allows the band to keep their gear set up so they can simply gather and play.

Of course, there was the matter of setting a playlist from among the thousands of blues songs that exist.

Fulawka said that actually proved easier than one might expect.

“A good song is a good song,” he said.

In many cases, it was just going back in time for the four music veterans.

“We all used to play in bands 25 years ago,” he said, adding it was natural to include “some of that older stuff,” on the playlist.

The band is also writing original material.

When asked who pens the efforts Blommaert was quick to explain it is a band endeavour.

“We all are. It’s collaborative,” he offered.

Andrychuk said anyone in the band might come up with a line, and suddenly they are all chipping in suggestions, and in time a song emerges.