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A troubadour on home turf

A troubadour on home turf

Gifted local roots and blues guitarist Joel Fafard plays the Gibsons Heritage Playhouse on March 14. Fafard is in the middle of a four-month tour, making a brief stop on the West Coast for a couple of shows before heading off to Atlantic Canada and Europe. He’s just come home from a succesful two-week tour of New Zealand where the Juno-nominated and Western Canadian Music Award winner has many fans. “It was my seventh time there,” says Fafard. “I have a following and played some really great rooms.” 


Coast musician Joel Fafard appears March 14 at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons, in the midst of an international tour. Mark Benson photo

Fafard is originally from Saskatchewan, moving to the Coast with his family in 2009. He’s been playing guitar since he was 15 years old. “I guess I wanted to be a rock star,” he laughs. “But tastes change after a while.” His introduction to the blues guitar sound that has become his trademark came from the oddest of places. “My dad listened to so much CBC [radio] and that was slowly filtering into my brain,” he says. Michael Enright, current host of The Sunday Edition, used to host As It Happens. “He [Enright] always had these really bluesy guitar intros and outros between all the little bits,” recalls Fafard. “Later I realized that sound was a resonator guitar with a slide. Once I found that sound I couldn’t put it down.” The world of roots and blues music opened up to him from there and he has now recorded eight albums of mostly original music, picking up awards and nominations for his songwriting and playing. Critics have said he “performs with the soul of a purist” allowing his resonator to “get wild.” Fafard notes that a resonator guitar has a lot of tension. “And with a slide you can dig into notes, you can really simmer along,” he says. “In musical terms, I really enjoy flat thirds and flat sevenths.”

There’s nothing flat about his performances, however. Fafard is something of a modern day troubadour, taking his brand of Southern roots and blues music on the road, just him and his guitar, telling stories in-between his songs. “I enjoy connecting with the audience in a different way,” says Fafard of the storytelling. “It makes it a more complete night to reach them on that level as well as a musical level.” He’s working on some new songs for an album he hopes to record soon and he’s been playing them on this tour, trying them out. “I’ve an album that’s pretty formulated in my head,” he says. “I have 10 new songs I’m working into the sets and getting a better idea of where those songs need to go. They’ll change during that time, the words or the chords, until they stick.” Music lovers on the Coast are in for a night of great music and musicianship for Fafard’s only  hometown concert where, in addition to his trusty resonator, he’ll be bringing along a few more instruments. “The feedback I hear from people is that they’re entertained,” says Fafard of his concerts. “Whether it’s the groove, or the stories or the songs, they’re entertained for the night.”

Joel Fafard plays the Gibsons Heritage Playhouse on Saturday, March 14 at 8pm. Tickets $25 at the door or $20 in advance, available at, Gibsons Florist, MELOmania, and Strait Music.

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