Search
  • The Sound Cafe

A Conversation With Denis Columbus



Denis Columbus is a veteran of the Canadian music scene. He’s best known as accompanying his partner, Angel Forest. But, his career has been varied and extensive and he’s worked with a wide range of musicians. He’s always wanted to put out his own album and it’s now a desire that's come to fruition with the release of Eleven Dollar Bill.


Ken Wallis interviewed Denis Columbus for the radio show Blues Source Canada. The following are excerpts edited and emended for The Sound Café.




Ken Wallis

Denis Columbus has got an album out. It's not necessarily blues, but it's certainly got some flavour of bluesy. Denis thanks for coming on the show. How are you doing?


Denis Columbus

Thanks for having me Ken. I’m doing great, yourself?


Ken Wallis

Terrific just getting through winter. So, tell us a bit about the album. It's very interesting; there's certainly a connection to the blues world. You've always been in the blues world, but I wouldn't call it a blues album, but it's a bluesy album. How would you describe the album?


Denis Columbus

I've played blues my entire life, for the past 20 years with Angel, but, even before that. So, it has a huge place in my playing and in my writing. But I come from the country, and I come from country music, so this album is my country album that I wrote with Angel Forest, and Ricky Paquette. We wrote a few albums together, like Hell Bent With Grace with Angel and we kind of found a really magical spot the three of us together. So even though it's not a blues album, it obvious I have a lot of roots in the blues and so does Angel and Ricky. It gives it a flavour. The bluesy part of my album would probably not be the kind of scales that you expect in the chord changes of the blues. It’s more the musicality of how we use a lot more music to translate what we're trying to accomplish emotionally.


Ken Wallis

And why did you select the title Eleven Dollar Bill? How did that come about?


Denis Columbus

Well, you know Angel wrote all the lyrics, so Eleven Dollar Bill came in her head. It's a way to portray the fakeness of some parts of the music industry, if you will. Why we decided to use the title is a bit funny. You know Angel Ken, so you know that the number 11 has a huge part to play in our lives. Even yesterday we took a flight and guess what row we were in? Eleven! So, Angels 11, Angels 11 volume II, she's born on the Eleventh. When she wrote that song it was kind of an easy call for us to say, Eleven Dollar Bill yeah, that's it, that's the one!


Ken Wallis

And there's a fabulous video. And I gotta admit I just love seeing Ricky Paquette shredding the guitar on that. He is a fabulous player.


Denis Columbus

He is a fabulous player; he's done so much for me over the years influence-wise. He's a rock and a rocker to us.


Ken Wallis

This album isn't something that happened overnight. It was almost two years in the making, right?


Denis Columbus

It's actually three years now. We took about a year to write the thing and I recorded the music three years ago. Then we did some voices and the album was ready two years ago. But obviously with covid, the record label and I discussed it, and decided to wait and leave it on the shelf for now. With covid, Angel and I just disappeared on our little island and took some time off, and wrote Angels 11 Volume II in the meantime. When we heard that some stuff was going to reopen, I re-did some of the vocals on the album last winter, and then it was ready to go. We waited for the right time, and I hope it's now.


Ken Wallis

I was just thinking earlier today that the merchandize tables are gonna be something else with your album, Angel's album, and Ricky's album out there.


Denis Columbus

Yeah, that's what we've been talking about because on top of that, we use the same core band. We're kind of very family oriented and so our drummer and our bass player we share. The drummer plays with Angel and he plays with Ricky and he plays with me. So, on the road it's going to be quite something to have to share all our bands together. But you know when you're in love, you're in love, and it works. The chemistry is amazing.


Ken Wallis

Obviously, the title track is a terrific song. Is there one other song on that album that you would recommend somebody sit down and listen to first?


Denis Columbus

Well, you know, it really depends on what the feeling of the moment is. One of my favoruite songs on the album is Cold Goodbye. It talks about someone that has to leave for work or for whatever reason. It's not a split-up song, but it's someone who goes away because they have no choice. That song to me has a really big feeling. I wrote that album thinking about, when I really fell and loved country, it was more in the 90s, where it was Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson. They were storytellers, but most of all that's the bluesy part of me that likes that. When I say musicality, there's one song, the new single Called Saddle Me Up. It's kind of rock ‘n roll and there's tons of solos in there. I remember being in the studio and I had the pedal steel player and the violinist facing each other, in front of each other, and I said okay guys, you let it rip and I want blood. I want both of you to battle and we would just play the song and they would go at it and play as crazy as they could. They would face each other and say I’m gonna get you. They would talk like that. If you're in the mood for a party believe me that's the song to listen to.


Ken Wallis

Where can our listeners get a hold of your album?


Denis Columbus

You can go on any platform obviously; you can stream it. But most of all if you want to buy the physical album you can go on Bandcamp and on my site. If you see a show in your area, I will always have cds with me.


Ken Wallis

Well, I sure hope I get to see you guys soon.

Denis Columbus

We're gonna start driving back to B.C. around June, so my guess there's gonna be a lot of shows on the way.


Ken Wallis

Well looking forward to it, it's a great album. I’m calling you guys a triple play with you. Angel and Ricky, it's terrific. Thanks for your time, I really appreciate it.


Denis Columbus

Thank you Ken




Website: dcolumbus.bandcamp.com/releases

Facebook: www.facebook.com/denis.coulombe

Twitter: twitter.com/coulombedenis