SUNDRIDGE – East Coast bluesman Ross Neilsen is calling out to the non-believers.
“Contrary to popular belief, blues is a celebration of life,” he said. “In life, you have good days and bad days. It’s not all crying in your beer.”
Neilsen said he uses his own life’s experiences as inspiration for his songs, including life on the road and the sacrifices musicians must make in order to live out their dreams.
“It’s certainly not for everybody,” admitted Neilsen. “I have a travelling gene in me, so I get antsy being in one place for any length of time. But it’s hard on your personal life.”
Based in Hampton, New Brunswick, Neilsen became a full-time musician in 2007. He now plays upwards of 200 shows each year – some with his band the Sufferin’ Bastards, and some solo.
“The band is very electric and very powerful,” he said. “It has a lot of pyrotechnics. The solo show is more stories and songs.”
Neilsen said travelling alone when he tours solo is a refreshing change to the rest of the year.
“I quite like the solitude. The rest of the year I spend travelling with two dudes, so it’s a totally different atmosphere,” he said, noting he doesn’t do much writing while on the road despite the solitude.
“I don’t write well on the road because there are a lot of details that require my daily attention,” he said.
With a show nearly every day, there are plenty of details to keep him busy and plenty of eager fans looking to bend his ear.
During his shows, Neilsen performs classic blues alongside his own original music, including songs from his latest studio recording Redemption, which was released in the spring of 2010.
“Even when I was a kid my rock always had a blues feel,” he said. “I love the passion, expression, and raw emotion of it.”
Neilsen has received much recognition for his contributions to the Canadian music scene, including being honoured with a nomination for Best New Artist at The Maple Blues Awards in 2010, two Rising Star nominations from CBC, back-to-back Blues Album of the Year nominations from the East Coast Music Association, and a win for Best Blues Recording for the album Redemption at the 2010 MusicNB awards.
On Wednesday, March 20, Neilsen is set to perform at Michael’s on Main restaurant in Sundridge. But this isn’t his first visit to the area. Previously he was a guest performer at the former Renee’s Café in South River.
Currently on a cross-Canada tour, Neilsen managed to finagle gigs and transportation rolled into one by performing onboard the Via Rail train.
“Friends of mine did it before and I really wanted to take the tour cross-country, so I contacted Via Rail,” he said. “I basically perform on the train in exchange for room and board.”
For more information on upcoming tour dates, including a stop in Muskoka, visit www.rossneilsen.com.
Tickets for the Sundridge performance include a three-course dinner at a cost of $30 per person. Doors open at 5 p.m. with the concert to follow. Call 705-384-5447 for reservations.