Musician Bloodshot Bill has always been one for finding simple solutions to difficult problems. When at 13, he found learning guitar too tough on his fingers, he decided to learn the drums instead.
And when the bands he joined couldn’t create the sounds he had in mind, he decided to become a one-man band.
“Bloodshot Bill has been one of these guys that’s been playing around the country for a long time,” said Janna Graham, SnowKing Winter Festival program coordinator. “I’ve been hearing his name for forever. He’s a prolific recorder … He’s always touring and always playing.”
He did eventually pick up the guitar again and is an “amazing guitarist,” adds Graham. He also plays the drums and bass.
Now Yellowknife will get to see the multi-instrumentalist in person, when he performs at the SnowKing Winter Festival’s Shiver-N-Shake, Friday.
Coinciding with the annual event’s usual Rockabilly theme, Bill’s short melodies take note from some of the best of the 1950’s, but with a twist of its own.
“People make it seem like I invented a kind of music,” he said. “It’s not that – I’m just playing rock n’ roll, but there’s a punk kind of energy that I drop too.”
While Bill’s music takes inspiration from some of his favourite genres – rock, blues, garage and doo-wop – his voice is what sets him apart from others.
Bill’s raspy voice is what tips the line between classic rock n’ roll and punk, giving it an edgier feel.
But that can change from one track to the next. Bill’s music takes the form of how he’s feeling on a given day and any compilation of songs can be found on a single album.
He mentioned how one of his pet peeves is listening to an album and feeling like every song sounds the same, so he prefers to change things up when he can.
And by recording and releasing all his own music, that makes it easy to do.
“I think some bands – they just wait. They say, ‘we need somebody behind us to make this happen’ and you don’t,” said Bill. “Maybe that makes it easier – but I’ve never waited. I’m very impatient and I think, ‘I want to do this now.'”
Bill has so far released 20 albums, plus EPs. When asked where he plans to take his music next, his plan was simple.
“I love recording and putting out records,” he said. “I wanna do that and keep travelling and keep doing what I’m doing.
“I’m having a ball.”
Having seen the musician perform in Montreal, where he’s from, Graham mentioned Bill’s ability to get everyone up on their feet dancing.
“He’s definitely got a showman style of1950’s rockabilly, but he’s a young guy,” said Graham. “He has that retro kind of cool thing going on … Hopefully it will be a good sweaty dance party.”
Opening up for Bloodshot Bill is Yellowknife’s psychedelic rock band, WitchDoctor.
It’s musicians Jeff Stewart, Andrew Jossa, Johnny Rodgers, Layne Rybchinski and Jamie Walowski, making their debut March 15 at the snow castle.