Chris Canas Blues Revolution
A young master at "Blue, Brews, & BBQs"
From the November, 2008 issue
If Chris Canas isn't livin' the blues, he sure knows how to channel it. This guitarist and singer, with jazz training from the Ann Arbor School for the Performing Arts, recorded his first blues CD at seventeen. Now twenty-four, he says he wants to bring the blues to a younger generation--but any generation can appreciate the stunning maturity of his sound.
With a warm, wet singing voice that is not at all affected, he delivers the traditional repeated blues lines with force and heartbreak. He can growl his way through a sexy original song where he compares succulent thighs to sweet potatoes and then serve up a falsetto ballad reminiscent of Smokey Robinson.
But it's when his guitar starts to sing that his talent really transcends his age. Canas understands how to communicate the electric blues. No mere mimic, he clearly has command of his instrument, coaxing a tight, saw-toothed sound for solos that don't wander but continually surprise. He sneaks in a little wah-wah, or even a touch of Hendrix style, but not for the sake of showing off. He plays what is appropriate to the song, even if we hadn't realized that was what the song needed.
On top of all that, Canas has written a couple dozen blues originals, with titles like "Big Bone Woman" and "Hard Times," that showcase his considerable talent. And he's put together a band of veterans, including Shane Rasmussen on keyboards and Kevin Schoepke on bass, who not only underpin his musicianship but bring their own funk and groove to the party. Chris's mother, Angela Cottingham, sings backup vocals, creating the lovely blend you would expect.
The Chris Canas Blues Revolution has a deep repertoire, covering soul classics like "The Thrill Is Gone" and gig standards like "Dock of the Bay" when I saw the group on a Friday night at Guy Hollerin's. Canas and his band are regulars at this Holiday Inn-based bar's "Local Blues, Brews, & BBQs" series on Fridays,
5:30-8:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 8 p.m.-midnight. This concept, sponsored by WEMU and produced by local promoter Peter Andrews (who helped plan the earliest Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festivals), is intended for an older crowd who still want to party but prefer to do so a little earlier and with a little less drunken stupidity.
The setting doesn't offer the best acoustics for the quality local talent, but that didn't stop people from getting down on the huge dance floor as the Blues Revolution gave its all. It was a friendly atmosphere where strangers struck up conversations and Chris's toddlers danced with their mom. The Chris Canas Blues Revolution returns to Guy Hollerin's on Friday, November 14.
[Originally published in November, 2008.]
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