Canada’s king of roots music, AKA Mr. Groove – Terry Gillespie – returns to Halifax to make his Carleton debut on Thursday, June 8th. Live music gets underway at 9 PM and it’s only $10 at the door. Grab some pals and head to Argyle street to catch this legend in the flesh, it’s not like Terry comes to town every day!
Born in Canada, raised in the United States, Terry Gillespie returned home in a hurry in the 60s when the possibility of being blown up in Vietnam seemed almost inevitable. But by the time he came back to Canada, he’d already been infected, inspired and influenced by the blues. He had dug deep into the still-segregated world of the blues by smuggling himself into blues bars to hear — and later play with — Howling Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and a youngster called Buddy Guy.
Fifty years on, his musical palette is far wider and how that happened is another story… Settling in Ottawa, Terry helped form Heaven’s Radio and by the mid-70s there was a single on United Artists, and — later — two LPs on Posterity. In the years since Heaven’s Radio disbanded (there was a brief revival of the band in 2007) he built a steady career playing solo or with a band that often included musicians from Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and South Africa. Playing daily with local musicians immersed him in a different musical community — in the same way that it had when he discovered the blues in his teen years and as it did in Ottawa playing rock and roll.
You can hear the results on his new album, Home Boy. It’s his fifth solo CD, and it has a warm “island” feel that permeates the whole record — even though it was recorded live off the floor at the Granary Restaurant in Vankleek Hill, east of Ottawa, where the Gillespies have made their home.
Terry Gillespie has sometimes been called a musical shaman, Canada’s king of roots music and even Mr. Groove — and all for good reason. There is no showboating, no over-the-top guitar pyrotechnics. His live performances are both laid back and powerful and passionate; entertaining and captivating in a way that allows his audience to become involved as listeners— or dancers responding to the groove.