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Canadian music icon Colin James happy to be on the road again after COVID lockdowns and restrictions

Trio’s Tidemark Theatre show is one for the first in a month-long tour through B.C. and Alberta
Colin James, whose new album ‘Open Road’ drops on Nov. 5, 2021, will play the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre on Nov. 8. (File photo)

Juno Award winner Colin James returns to Vancouver Island, and takes the Tidemark Theatre stage for a sold out show on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021.

James won’t be alone, however, and will perform alongside Steve Marriner and Anders Drerup. Both multi-instrumentalists, Marriner has played on James’s last three albums, but Drerup is new to the trio and will be playing with them for the first time.

Drerup, James said, who was originally from Ottawa and now lives in Austin, Texas, was actually a contestant on the public audition TV reality show The Voice, in 2020.

As James said, attendees to the Tidemark show can expect to see “three musicians who are just happy to be playing again.”

“The shows we do are a lot of fun. I love them because they give you a chance to play a wider sweep of material than you sometimes can with the bigger band, in its tonality and its mood,” he said.

In more intimate shows like this, he appreciates being able to explain the songs a bit more than he normally would and can provide a bit of banter on stage.

Being back on the road will be cathartic for the trio as they’ll be able to play together for more than one night in a row.

James will embark on a seemingly “non-ending” tour, kicking off in November. Throughout the rest of the month, he’ll perform in cities across British Columbia and Alberta. In the new year, he anticipates doing a Canadian tour, moving from Quebec to Vancouver, in late January or February. That tour, however, has not officially been announced yet as it hinges on weather and what COVID-regulations will look like at the time.

As per his website, James will be going down to the U.S., through California, Arizona, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, New Jersey, Virginia and Pennsylvania through March and April.

Campbell River attendees can expect to hear an array of songs during the show, as they won’t be solely focused on his new album, Open Road, which drops just days before on Nov. 5.

“The nice thing about having 20 records is you can pick and choose. And some songs lend themselves to an acoustic rendition, some don’t. It’s not like we’re totally acoustic, we’re still playing electric guitars. And occasionally we’ll even have some augmentation, as far as a stomp box – we don’t have a full drum kit. But we do things to make it move,” he said.

James said he looks forward to being back on the road again, playing for real people.

“It’s hard to emulate what it’s like to have the adrenaline and everything in a live show, as it relates to your playing. When you’re sitting around home, you don’t play with that intensity ever, you just don’t. So it’s just getting out and getting some shows, getting your hands back, getting your skill back. And it doesn’t take long, it takes three or four shows. Sometimes that’s all it takes to kick you out the door,” he said.

Like everyone else in the music industry, the pandemic has taken its toll on James.

“When you stop doing what you’ve been doing for 30-35 years, for two years in a row, it’s just kind of shocking.”

Over the past year, James has kept himself busy with doing livestreams and other online content.

His takeaway from livestreaming shows, however, was not the best.

“I don’t even want to hear the word livestream anymore,” he said with a chuckle.

He said it was a lot of work without as much of a payoff, in regards to how he feels by the end of it.

“We did a live feed from the Commodore with the full setup, full band, the whole nine yards. The one thing that was missing was the audience.”

Other than livestreaming shows, James said he kept himself busy doing a YouTube series with his wife, called On the Coach with Colin James, where they talked about the recording of the records.