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A Conversation With Cheryl Lescom


By Ken Wallis.



Cheryl Lescom can belt them out with the best of them and has been doing exactly that over the years. She’s got a voice that could stop a train and when she lets it all go, you know you’re listening to someone with unique talent. She’s performed with the crème de la crème of blues artists.


Ken Wallis interviewed Cheryl for the radio show Blues Source Canada. The following are excerpts from that interview.




Ken Wallis

We're featuring the recent release of a great album…Cheryl Lescom And The Tucson Choir Boys…the album is entitled Well Played and it's a very apt title because it is a terrifically well played album. Joining us to talk about it is Cheryl Lescom…Cheryl thanks for coming on the show.


Cheryl Lescom

Thank you very much for having me Ken.


Ken Wallis

First of all, I saw a press release…I can't believe this…you've been part of the Canadian music scene for over 45 years…seriously?


Cheryl Lescom

I started in ‘75 on the road…I started singing in about ‘73. So what does that make it? Let's do the math…yeah 40 years plus…I've been around for a while anyway.


Ken Wallis

The album is entitled Well Played. Where does the title come from?


Cheryl Lescom

My brain [LAUGH]…the songs are sort of songs that you can grow old to. I'm not a young spring chicken and neither is anything that I write about. Most of the guys in The Tucson Choir Boys and Chris included …we're all of an age…so we are all well played…the game has been well played…the music's been well played. I just thought it was a great title.


Ken Wallis

Where did they get the title of Tucson Choir Boys from?


Cheryl Lescom

You know what…they're just a crazy bunch of guys. I think it was better than The Mississauga Choir Boys or whatever. I don't know…I have no idea…they had that name before I started working with them…so I've never really kind of gotten into that. I'm sure there's some sort of crazy-ass story going on there.


Ken Wallis

How did you get hooked up with them?


Cheryl Lescom

My third CD was High-Heeled Blues and Ray Walsh who's a bass player was hired to play on the cd. I just got along with him famously and after that we started writing and it’s been really easy. He's just a gentle soul and a great guy to work with and the Tucson Choir Boys are all great too including Chris… she's not a boy but she's part of it…they’re just a great bunch of people to work with and that's been happening now since 2005….it's been a while and we really enjoy playing with each other so it's great.


Ken Wallis

So, basically the two of you write most of the tunes?


Cheryl Lescom

Yeah, I do the lyrics and have a sort of a melody in my head and then Ray and I get together and we kind of chop through things and then we take it to the band and the band sprinkles fairy dust on it. This CD took three years because of the pandemic. We were going to release it last year…actually in March and when this started happening and all the rumours of our gigs going…so there was no rush to put this out. I decided that let's just take our time to really mix this…get some different drums on there so we kind of fine-tuned it a little bit more than we would have maybe. All things happen for a reason and I'm really happy with the result.


Ken Wallis

How did you go about selecting the songs that appeared on the album?


Cheryl Lescom

Well you just write them… with every CD that I've written you can kind of tell what phase I'm going through…in this phase I'm going through the I'm old and ignored.


Ken Wallis

Oh boy…well if you're old I'm ancient.


Cheryl Lescom

I guess you know what I mean. I've got two sons and it's just a comic routine when they get together because it's just oh mom, oh mom. You stand at the store and you kind of realize well I'm not gonna get served first because I'm old and there's all sorts of prejudice that comes along with that and I won't get into that but it's comical as far as I'm concerned…but it is definitely apparent and it's definitely there so I wanted to write about it.


Ken Wallis

For folks that haven't heard the album yet, how would you describe the music on this album?


Cheryl Lescom

That's a tough one…I don't know…it's sort of a bluesy, rootsy…does that make sense? It's not commercial …it's not pop. People have been always hard pressed to put their finger on the label for me. I don't do classic 12 bar blues but I have a very bluesy voice and my delivery is very bluesy so the combination with the Tucson Choir Boys, being sort of much more acoustic…they don't have that heavy edge. That's what I love so much about working with them too is because there's a Yin Yang there.


Ken Wallis

I've seen you perform numerous times and what always strikes me is how much you enjoy being up on stage and singing your heart out. What's it been like the last little while not being able to perform?


Cheryl Lescom

It's been tough…it's been tough for everybody. I count myself lucky because I've had so many years of being able to do it and starting out in the early 70s and having the 70s 80s 90s where you could make a real good living…a living you could buy a house…you could have a family…you could do everything you could do and you could do it with making music full-time. Now it's a whole different ball game so I just feel really blessed to be able to have done it for as long as I have and if I can continue to do it I'll be equally as blessed. I miss it a lot just because it's sort of like my therapy and you really feel that love. I'm sitting here in my house with my dog…and I miss that part of it. I miss people…I'm a people person but I just do feel really blessed to have had it for so long. I feel bad for the people that haven't been able to have that sort of underneath their belt.


Ken Wallis

You've certainly played and sung with a lot of great artists… Ronnie Hawkins…Long John Baldry…you're featured on the Mighty Duck Blues Band CD. Is there any one artist that you always felt that you really wanted to perform with and you haven't so far?


Cheryl Lescom

Hmm…Lenny Kravitz? You know I've been really lucky to play with some of the best in Canada… no there's nobody that I really would like to play with that I haven't played with. I feel blessed to play with anybody...I mean I'd love to be able to play with Zeppelin or something like that just for the heck of it. Ann Wilson from Heart was a big part of the reason why I got into this business…I've been really lucky… I don't want for anything anymore.


Ken Wallis

Well that's a great feeling…you've been involved for years with the Kitchener Blues Festival…performing and as a stage host. Is there anything happening this summer or is it on the shelf?


Cheryl Lescom

Well we don't know yet. We're hoping that in some form. Last year there was some live streaming that we got together and they had some grant money…they had a very small audience of 25 people and outdoors… and it was for Friday and Saturday night…there was maybe six or seven acts. I played to 25 people and I'd rather not play because it really makes me realize what I don't have. Having a live audience that's breathing on you and loving you is important…playing in a trojan condom with a shower curtain or whatever else is in front of you is just no fun. You can't see the audience…that plastic shower curtain causes a glare so you can't even see the people that are in front of you…all you can see is yourself. It's like playing in front of a mirror….I’m done being 11 years old.


Ken Wallis

Well I sure hope it happens again…it's one of my favourite festivals and I go every year…it's just such a great plethora of artists.


Cheryl Lescom

Yeah it will happen Ken…I'm just not quite sure in what capacity. My big thrill with the Kitchener Blues Festival is the Grand River Blues Camp for the kids that starts on the Tuesday before the festival and then the kids kick off the festival on the Friday. We get these kids for Tuesday Wednesday Thursday and then Friday is show time. Usually there's about five or six hundred people in the audience…there's 60 kids that come up and we really have a good time and that's my favourite part of the festival…Matt Weidinger came up from there…there's been a lot of great kids that are now teaching and it's just such a thrill because they’re the next generation and seeing how excited they are and how talented they are…that's my favourite part and I don't think that's going to be happening this year just because of Covid. You see these kids every year for like eight years or nine years. I’ve been doing it for 10 years and you hope that you get to see them next year because they grow and they change so much. I really miss them and that's what I'm missing more than anything because if I don't see them for two years there's some that I won't see again.


Ken Wallis

That's one of the things I've noticed in the blues world…there's a lot of up-and-coming young people that are quite dedicated…quite talented and really want to get out there in front of audiences.


Cheryl Lescom

That's the only way you can do it…if you want to be a musician and write music you can…but if you want to be a performer you have to have a live audience and for me that's always been the reason why I've done it and I love it so much. Once you get that sort of bug it's hard to stop and without that, it's kind of hard to focus…it’s hard to understand where you're going. I'm really praying that we get back to bars because bars are where kids learn and especially now with all of the talent. We have a Wednesday night jam here in Kitchener where the kids were invited to come down to the Rhapsody Barrel Bar and they played with all the seasoned musicians in town. The kids got a chance to play and meet a lot of kids their own age plus a lot of their mentors and people that are going to help them do anything as far as playing their instruments or singing. There's a big difference between a musician and a performer.


Ken Wallis

The album is called well played…it’s Cheryl Lescom and The Tucson Choir Boys…where can folks get the album?


Cheryl Lescom

www.cheryllescom.com Encore Records in Kitchener has them…they've got all my CD's…and on the website you can get all the CD there for your dining and dancing entertainment.


Ken Wallis

It's a great album Cheryl I've been enjoying it and we'll be featuring it over the next couple of weeks on the show. Thank you so much for your time Cheryl and hope to see you live on stage someday soon.


Cheryl Lescom

Yes someday soon…in the meantime stay healthy take care of yourself.




Website: www.cheryllescom.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/www.CherylLescom.ca

Twitter: twitter.com/CherylLescom




 

 

 

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