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Empress Theatre to host Carlos del Junco

Carlos del Junco

Carlos del Junco will perform March 17 and March 18 at the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod. Del Junco is promoting his new CD, Mongrel Mash.

Carlos del Junco’s fans can get ready for a little Mongrel Mash on March 17-18 at the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod.
The two-time Juno award nominee is promoting his latest CD Mongrel Mash on an 18-stop tour of B.C. and Alberta.
“I always say there will be something for everyone,” del Junco said of his concerts, which get under way at 8 p.m. both nights. “If you want to get up and dance there will be something for you. If you want to sit and listen, there will be something for you.”
The world champion blues and jazz harmonica player’s visit to Fort Macleod is the 12th stop on the month-long tour and is part of the Empress Theatre Society’s Centre Stage Series.
The Fort Macleod audience will experience the live show the seven-time Maple Blues Awards Harmonica Player of the Year had intended on Mongrel Mash.
Del Junco, who was born in Cuba and raised in Toronto, had planned a live album as a follow-up to his 2010 release Steady Movin’, which was nominated for a Juno Award.
“The very first album I recorded was live,” said del Junco. “There is something about playing for a live audience that you can’t capture in the studio.”
Del Junco explained that playing for an audience is a reciprocal experience, with both musician and listener feeding off one another.
Sound quality issues prompted del Junco to change course and make what he calls a “live album in the studio” to capture the raw energy and diversity of a live show with the clarity of a studio set.
“We’ve extended the solos,” del Junco said of what sets Mongrel Mash apart from other studio albums. “When you’re playing live you tend to extend the solos.”
Mongrel Mash is a collection of songs showcasing del Junco’s harmonica playing and Kevin Breit’s musical accompaniment with the backing of Blues Mongrels Henry Heillig on bass, Jorn Andersen on drums and percussion and Denis Keldie on organ.
“I’m really happy with the record,” del Junco said.
Mongrel Mash opens with the Breit original The Crazy Bastard and follows with del Junco’s own My Favourite Uncle.
Mongrel Mash contains updated renditions of del Junco audience favourites Mariachi and The Field from his 2001 album Up and At ‘Em as well as Heddon Tadpolly Spook.
“Those are what I consider the epic songs,” del Junco said, explaining each of the three songs takes on its own journey each time it is played.
Del Junco enjoyed choosing the songs for what he says is an aptly-titled CD.
“I get into all kinds of trouble for putting the kind of music I do on a CD, but I can’t help it,” del Junco said with a laugh. “Most people say that they’re a blues artist or a country artist. I put all these different genres on one disk, but it’s all based in roots.”
Although it’s an interesting mix, what pulls the music on Mongrel Mash together is that the songs are roots-based with bluesy overtones, melodic and showcase the musicians’ virtuosity.
“If you listen to my last five CDs, they’re all over the map,” del Junco said.
Del Junco is one of the few musicians in the world adept at using the overblow technique on diatonic harmonica taught to him by jazz virtuoso Howard Levy.
Del Junco’s sound ranges from sensitive and soulful riffs to raw solos.
Del Junco has recorded with Bruce Cockburn, Kim Mitchell, Cassandra Vassick, Oliver Schroer, and Zappacosta and worked with Dutch Mason, Hoc Walsh and Holly Cole.
As he promotes Mongrel Mash, del Junco is already thinking of his next project.
“I had an idea to do a more Latin record, to take some old blues songs and turn them upside-down,” del Junco said.
Another idea is to collaborate with other artists on a new album.
Whatever option del Junco chooses, you can be sure there will be something for everyone.

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