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A Conversation With Rob Damon Of The Waterstreet Blues Band



The Waterstreet Blues Band delivers original modern blues with a rockin' party groove. The band features three core members but also performs as a four or five piece band. They hail from Waterloo and bring some refreshing new ideas to the blues world.

Ken Wallis interviewed Rob Damon for the radio show Blues Source Canada which airs on Blues & Roots Radio and The Hawk FM.

Ken Wallis

The Waterstreet Blues Band has a brand new CD out. It's called Talking About and joining us is the guitarist for The Waterstreet Blues Band, Rob Damon. Rob thanks for chatting.

Rob Damon

Thanks Ken I'm thrilled to be able to join you this morning.

Ken Wallis

Could you walk us through who's in the band and what instruments they play.

Rob Damon

Absolutely.. well on this on this record we have the core of the band which is Paul Sapounzi on bass and lead vocals, Silvia Dee who plays keys and squeeze.. she plays keyboard and accordion and lead vocals. She's got killer vocals we're so blessed.. we have two really stellar vocalists in the band. And it's nice to have that variety of a male and female vocals in the same band sharing the spotlight. And then on drums we have Johnny Sauder. Johnny also plays in some other Bands, he plays with Elliot And The Audio King as well. And we have guesting on the album, and he actually played on our first album…we play with him as often as we can.. a harmonica player Chris “Junior” Malleck who was in Daddy Long Legs and plays frequently with Danny Michel and also plays with us.

Ken Wallis

So you guys are almost a super group.

Rob Damon

Well we have a lot of fun together. We're all good friends and we really enjoy each other and we enjoy each other's company and musically it's a great combination.

Ken Wallis

Well I had to laugh when i read the liner notes and the note on drummer Johnny, was creepy drummer sounds…that broke me right up. What does that mean?

Rob Damon

Well there's one of the songs on the album that Paul, Sylvia and I wrote the material and on the album there's seven originals and two covers but one of the originals was a song that Paul took the lead on and it's called Mean Vicious Woman and he wanted to create an atmosphere that was unsettling for the listener. So if you notice the bass it's not out of tune but it's creating some dissonance in the song at times and we wanted to create some unsettling sounds using Johnny's percussion, so he took a stick and he actually took the tip of the stick and kept grinding it along the edge of a symbol to create a jarring sound we layered that throughout the tune to create this unsettling feeling about this mean vicious woman.

Ken Wallis

I was wondering where that sound was coming from… that's interesting

Rob Damon

Yeah and I was doing harmonics on guitar so when you combine his symbol and my harmonics on the guitar it does create a bit of an unsettling sound

Ken Wallis

And where did the title of the band come from?

Rob Damon

We started out in Cambridge Ontario and the jam hall we were using was located right on Water Street in Cambridge Ontario and we were looking for a name for the band. We had tried 100 different ones and then we just looked at the street sign and said that's our name.

Ken Wallis

That's a great story. You guys have a lot of originals on there but you have a couple of covers and one of them is Samantha Fish. Is there a reason for that? Are you guys a big fan of hers or just love the song?

Rob Damon

We love Samantha Fish. The blues is in good hands with young people like Samantha Fish. She’s dynamic, a great player, great songwriter and she's been on our radar for a long time because Miles To Go is one of her earlier tunes and Sylvia said that would be a song she'd like to take a run at but we decided to do it a little differently. If you're familiar with Samantha's version, she does it I believe in a three-piece and it's kind of almost got a punky sound to it. I think she plays her cigar box guitar on it. So I picked up my resonator guitar and Sylvia picked up her accordion. We changed it from a punky vibe to sort of a driving country blues vibe. We try not to do our covers as true covers. We always try to give it our own unique take.

Ken Wallis

When you guys were deciding on what songs to put on the album, do you all sit down as a team and try and write together and try and come up with the ideas or is it falling to one or two people in the band ?

Rob Damon

Well Paul, Sylvia and I write all the material and we are very collaborative so I may have a riff and bring it to the band. I may have some words, Sylvia may have chord forms and some words and we bring it to the bend and we and we work it through… so we were very collaborative that way and we've been that way since our inception.

Ken Wallis

And the band does a regular online gig, or as you could call it a little bit of an experience. Can you tell us about that feature?

Rob Damon

Oh yeah I'm thrilled to do that. We're usually on every Wednesday at 9 00 p.m. When the pandemic started, a lot of musicians shifted to live stream obviously from live performance because the opportunities dried up really quickly. We decided let's do something completely different and we created a talk show, so think Marv Griffin. We just said let's go retro… let's think old school, so our one hour is really a music talk show. We play a few tunes live but we talk about music a lot and we've been able to bring on guests. We have guests for about 20-25 minutes of the one-hour show and we interview them like you're interviewing me. If they have a video, if they have something to promote we're happy to play their music as well and have them perform live. We also create segments and bits that are humorous and funny and hopefully the audience thinks it's funny as well [LAUGH]. We’ve been able to build up a nice army of dedicated followers over the 14 weeks we've been doing this.

This is week 15, the start of season two.

Ken Wallis

And how do folks tune into this?

Rob Damon

They can go to our website, waterstreetbluesband.com…you can actually view it from the website but also you can click through to youtube, twitter, facebook live and twitch so you can see it on multiple and different streaming platforms . We can actually see people commenting during the live stream so we like to engage with our audience during the hour as we do the live stream

Ken Wallis

I think it's a great way to reach out to an audience since right now you can't exactly do a lot of live gigs

Rob Damon

Unfortunately well no we can't and especially when you're releasing an album. It was a great opportunity for us to introduce some of the new tracks to our audience and engage with the audience. We miss playing for a live audience…we miss that feedback but our Talking About live show has really given us a vehicle …an opportunity to engage with people directly and on a weekly basis. We really enjoy doing it and feedback we've been getting is that it's a really different form of live stream and people seem to be enjoying it.

Ken Wallis

Talking About is the lead track and it's also the title of the album. Why was that song selected as the title?

Rob Damon

Well in the studio when we were recording it, it felt right virtually from the first take and I think we caught that song virtually on the first take and there was a high level of energy. It's a rocker and we thought at the time that it might have some traction as a song. We also thought it was really a great idea for an album title. Then out of that came this idea for a live stream… so it all seemed to coalesce around that one song. It’s a typical Waterstreet original in that it doesn't follow the typical blues form although it's really not a one four five song but we tend to throw a lot of bridges into our music still while using sort of a standard blues form and the reason we do that is our bass player Paul is a huge Beatles fan and the Beatles obviously constructed their songs with a fairly standard format and then stuck a really unusual bridge in the middle of it. So if you go back and listen to our originals often you'll see that we've put a bridge in because we really enjoy the sound that makes and the difference in the song. When they hit the bridge, and of course everybody loves it when James Brown says go to the bridge.

Ken Wallis

Where can folks buy the album? And I stress buy it, not stream it, purchase it

Rob Damon

Well they can purchase it through Bandcamp. We've only released it digitally at this point because of our inability to be able to sell it off stages, our inability to do CD release parties. So we're really trying to send people to Bandcamp and they can purchase the album digitally.

Ken Wallis

Well let's hope soon we'll be back to live music. It would be really nice to be able to see some live music. I'd love to come and see you guys perform

Rob Damon

Before this pandemic, we were performing a lot in the Niagara area as well as the Waterloo region. We had cd release parties planned throughout Niagara and we were working on them in Hamilton just as the curtain came down. I should say we are going to be producing physical copies of the cd but we just put it off for a little while until we’re more certain re the pandemic.

Ken Wallis

Let's hope it all changes soon. Rob i thank you so much for your time. It's been great chatting with you.

Rob Damon

Thanks Ken thank you very much



Website: www.waterstreetband.com

Bandcamp: waterstreetbluesband.bandcamp.com




 

 

 

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