If Thursday’s Jesse Roper concert is anything like his interview, you can expect it to be lively.
“I like to play with a lot of energy anyway,” Roper says on the phone.
He’s calling from his hometown of Metchosin near Victoria. Just about to get a “lovely coffee from the Broken Pedal coffee shop.”
Roper will bring his two bandmates along with him to open the Campbell River Mirror Jazz & Blues Festival tomorrow night at Spirit Square. He will be kicking off the annual three-performance over three evenings festival at 7 p.m. tomorrow night.
Although he’s opening the Jazz & Blues fest, Roper doesn’t claim to be a solely Blues musician. He is a brilliant guitarist but he likens his style to Blues-Roots music.
He’s got a self-deprecating sense of humour, laughing at himself as much as promoting himself when called on to talk about his music, career and style.
“It’s like bluesy-rooted this and that,” he says. “I’ve got some songs with testosterone and other songs with none at all.
“I like a little bit of everything. I try to mix as much into my music as I can without sounding like a completely different band every song. It’s got energy. I enjoy myself playing it. They can expect me to have fun, even if they aren’t.”
Given his bandmates, drummer Steve Ling and bassist Matt Reid, have other gigs on the side, getting together to work out arrangements can be hit and miss but it works when it comes together.
“The guys I play with are so good we’re able to pull it off,” Roper says.
The Campbell River show will be like no other because he’s going to debut some new material for his fourth album.
“We’re trying out a whole bunch of new tunes that I’m just about to take into the studio so it could be absolutely horrible or it could be really good,” he says with a laugh. “I’m hoping for really good.”
Roper was here before opening for Current Swell at the Tidemark Theatre last December and got a good reception, so he’s looking forward to coming back.
“That show was fantastic,” he says. “The crowd really gave me a lot of support, it was really nice and I enjoyed it so obviously, well, I’m hoping to duplicate those experiences and GIVE THEM A WHOLE LOTTA LOVE RIGHT BACK (he says with emphasis in a gravelly voice).”
And he may be drawing some Victoria fans along for his up-Island return.
“At this point in time there’s lots of Victoria folks talking about making the drive up,” he says. Whether they’ll flow through or not, he can’t say but Roper is developing a strong following and garnering good reviews for his shows and three albums.
The guitar has been with him his whole life, getting his first one when he was six. He took lessons from various people, including his father and brother who played a lot of bluegrass, up until his teens when he abandoned the lessons approach and picked out music on his own from albums.
“I got a good ear,” he says.
At that time he had an ear for ACDC only but eventually got tired of trying to sound like somebody else and stopped listening to music altogether, concentrating on developing and playing his own music.
“I wanted to sound like Jesse Roper,” he says.
But he played only for himself, content to sit in his room and jam away or play for family and friends around the campfire or in the living room. Shyness prohibited him from taking his music out until his late 20’s when he discovered the rush of playing club gigs.
Since then he’s emerged as one of the Island’s musical acts to keep an eye on.
Right after tomorrow night’s Spirit Square gig he’s off to play the Pemberton Music Festival which headlines Pearl Jam, Snoop Dogg and Noel Gallagher and much more.
The Campbell River Jazz & Blues Festival features Roper tomorrow night from 7-9 p.m., the Company B Jazz Band on Friday and Uncle Wiggly’s Hot Shoes Blues Band on Saturday. Each night features a local community organization which will be there to collect toonies as donations to help those groups do the good work they do in the community. Tomorrow night will feature Campbell River Special Olympics. Friday night will feature the Campbell River Syrian Refugee Support Committee and Saturday will feature the Campbell River and North Island Transition Society.