Quantity of quality: Edmonton’s Boogie Patrol locks down Salmon Arm
This is the first in a series of Q&As we held with artists at SARB25.
The founders of Boogie Patrol have been making a name for themselves in true blue blues circles in the city of champions and beyond since 2007. We caught up with their sprightly frontman, Rot’n Dan Shinnan on day three of the 25th Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival, in case any of you serious blues fans in Jasper didn’t make it down.
Craig Gilbert: Writing the SARB program let me listen to all of the bands playing Roots and Blues and I’ve been looking forward to seeing you for a couple of months now. Where do you come up with all of that energy show after show?
Rot’n Dan: In my honest opinion, you have so much fun at a festival like this, you’re up late, you’re socializing. I have more wear and tear off the vocal side of it …
Rot’n Dan’s mom: You guys are on a signing at five ten.
Rot’n Dan: That’s my mom, that’s my mom reminded me of a signing. Ok, OK! The wear and tear is much more in the socializing and anything but the stage. Where were we, Robson Valley Music Festival last weekend, or even today was a good example where I don’t feel that great. I don’t have a lot of energy in my bones, you know? But the minute you step on stage, ah, it’s like this relaxing place and I don’t know a better high. I hope to find one, find a love that’s bigger and better than that but for now that’s it.
The energy? Look at the crowd in there, it’s insane! That is exactly where it comes from. At Robson I was just feeling awful all day, kinda drug down by the sun. You’re killing time until 1 a.m. or whatever when your set begins, but then when you step in and hit it, (exhales). That’s my comfort zone.
CG: How long have you been doing it now?
Dan: Boogie Patrol came together in 2007, so 10 years? I’m 30 now, I started playing harmonica when I was 17 going on 18, and religiously. Actually, I moved to Canmore and I worked as a dogsled tour guide and every payday I’d buy a new blues CD because right before I moved out there I was kind of given a harmonica and told, ‘try this out.’ And I was thinking ‘where does it fit musically, where does it fit,’ because the first time I heard it was around a fire at camp. There was something enchanting about it. But then that’s kind of not what I wanted to play, I was tired of friends saying “play the Flintstones”, or the Simpsons, or Star Wars, and I remember hearing the Fathers and Sons album, Muddy Waters and Paul Butterfield, and you heard Butterfield playing the harp and holy smokes, the electricity of it. At the same time I bought an album by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Key to the Highway – famous partnership. That was a whole ‘nother side to it, the roots of it.
CG: So what’s next?
Dan: Honestly, this is the first band I’ve ever had. I think I had a punk band in high school for about 20 minutes. What’s next? Personally, try not to let the business side suck the mojo out of me. The year as far as quality goes, it hasn’t been about quantity for Boogie Patrol, like we all play on different projects, we’re all hired guns everywhere, I do dual gigs, I’m a hired gun here and there on the harp. Tonight we’re a part of the Joe Cocker tribute, an 18-piece set. It’s been a bit of an eye-opener this year, the quantity of quality that’s happened this year for us, and that’s of course because we put out a new album, Man on Fire, years in the making. In 2013 we had recorded stuff and totally scrapped it. It’s always been the original three: Yuji Ihara, from Japan, on guitar, Nigel Gale on bass guitar and myself. We let a few fellas go to get rid of the negative energy, kind of reassessed and lived our own lives, Eugene moved to Calgary, Nigel and myself are still in Edmonton, and we really resurged. We worked with producer Murray Calvin out of Winnipeg and Doc Walker – hell of a guy, man.
It’s working out – quantity of quality. Yeah, I want more of that!