Canadian rhythm and blues artist Colin James, brought his impressive guitar skills to Trail Friday night, inviting fans for an intimate tour of his original songs and some well-played cover tunes.
It was close to a packed house at the Charles Bailey Theatre on James’ most recent stop for his Up Close and Personal tour. The Canadian guitarist was accompanied by Chris Caddell on stage, a Toronto-based musician.
The scene was set with only a side table, a floor lamp, two chairs and a seemingly endless supply of guitars.
Caddell opened the show with a small selection of original songs, before James came out to join him from stage right.
After telling fans how beautiful the Trail area is, all the way to the Waneta Dam, James got right into the music, starting off the set with a cover of Bill Withers’ “Heartbreak Road,” honouring the 70s R&B singer’s recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
After a strong start, the two guitarists spent the next two hours playing a combination of the songs James’ is known for, getting huge audience applause for “Five Long Years,” and “Why’d You Lie,” some bluesy tunes from newer albums and a collection of cover songs.
The Regina-born artist paid homage to other artists playing Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic,” for part of the encore, and Bob Dylan’s “Watching the River Flow,” substituting references to the Columbia River.
James also told a story about passing up the opportunity to record songs by writer Jerry Lynn Williams, only to see guitar great, Eric Clapton, release a collection of Williams’ originals, a few years later.
Some songs had concert-goers unable to stay in their seats as James switched back and forth between playing lead guitar and rocking out on the harmonica. It seemed that he had a new guitar delivered from back stage for almost every new song.
The Up Close and Personal musical experience with James was the perfect exhibition of his classic bluesy rock guitar style, meaningful lyrics and enthusiasm for the music. The audience felt like part of the show, as he played his hits and got them to sing along.
The final encore ended with a top-40 cover of Rihanna’s “Stay,” released in 2012. It was a slow and powerful ending to an entertaining performance.