A long-standing fixture on the Moncton music scene, celebrated blues guitarist Travis Furlong is getting set to release his latest project, a collaborative effort with musician Dave Smith, titled Blues You Can Use.
Initially, it was a booking error 20 years in the past that initially brought Furlong and Smith together. The former’s Glamour Puss Blues Band ended up being booked to perform at Groucho’s, a nightclub that once inhabited the corner of Church St. and Mountain Road in Moncton that has long been shuttered.
Little did they know that Smith’s group D.C. and the Streamliners were also set to play that night, a fact they only came to realize once the latter began lugging their gear into the venue.
“We [Glamour Puss] were set up by the time that the Streamliners arrived to load in, so rather than either one of us losing the show, we ended up playing the show together,” Furlong recalls.
Following that fateful evening, Furlong shares that he and Smith kept in contact with one another and continued performing together in various capacities over the years, including a brief stint during which the guitarist had temporarily joined Smith as a member of the Streamliners.
Perhaps one of the most ironic outcomes of the release of Blues You Can Use is the fact that Furlong and Smith had initially gone into the studio with the sole intention of recording a few songs that would serve as a bit of a sampler for entertainment bookers to help them secure future work.
“We originally headed into the studio solely for the purpose of cutting a few songs, but once we got underway, there was this great vibe to both the session and the studio. Things were going so well, Dave suggested we consider doing an EP of three or four songs. As that progressed though, we were having such a great time that we decided to increase the song count to nine and make it a full-fledged record,” Furlong says.
Not only was the somewhat accidental arrival of a full-length record surprising to the duo, the manner in which Furlong and Smith went about recording their new release was inspired accordingly by the blues greats of the past.
“We used just one microphone to capture everything. That’s how a lot of artists, in both blues and other genres, made albums back in the 1940’s and 50’s.”
Admitting their chosen recording technique isn’t likely to catch on with the masses again anytime soon, Furlong shares that the process allowed a “warts and all” approach to making the album. At a time in music history where virtually any mistake can be corrected with the help of modern technology, Furlong says maintaining the integrity of the original recordings was top of mind for both him and Smith.
“We just can’t get behind a lot of that new technology that a lot of artists are relying on these days. Sure, you can make a technically perfect single or album with a pristine vocal track and no bum notes on the instruments, but where’s the soul,” he asks rhetorically.
“A lot of pop music today is far too sterilized, as opposed to listening to guys like B.B. King or Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland. The recordings weren’t always technically perfect, but you hear the soul in what they were playing. That was the driving force. It was that spirit that we were looking to capture with Blues You Can Use.”
With more than 30 years of experience behind him, it’s reasonable to expect Furlong to know what he’s after with respect to the music he is creating. While he played guitar on and off from the time he was three until he turned 16, it was Steve Ray Vaughn’s song “Pride and Joy” that sparked something in the musician.
From there, Furlong dove headfirst into the blues, miring himself in the works of B.B. King and others, in effort to learn all he could about the genre. Following stints with a number of local acts, Furlong was drafted to play guitar in a Quebecois classic rock band where he met drummer Ronald Dupuis.
After the project they had been involved with wound down, Furlong and Dupuis bonded over a mutual love of the blues, going on to form The Glamour Puss Blues Band, an award-winning group that toured throughout Canada.
Although all has been relatively quiet in the Glamour Puss Blues Band camp these last few years, Furlong assures us that the group is gearing up for a return to the stage. From there, who’s to say what the future could hold?
“Glamour Puss never really stopped or split up or anything. The band admittedly got pushed to the backburner because of jobs and other commitments, but we all feel now is the time to get back on stage together. We’ve all truly missed making music together, and are all anxious to be sharing the stage again soon,” Furlong says.
What: Travis Furlong & Dave Smith CD Release for Blues You Can Use
When: Thursday May 5, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Moncton Press Club, 160 Assomption Blvd., Moncton
Admission is free