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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Ken Wallis Chats With Quebec-Based Harmonica Whiz, Guy Belanger


By Ken Wallis. Photo Credit: Ken Wallis.



Guy Belanger is one of those rare talents that can make a harmonica soar in songs that you instantly fall in love with. He says his harmonica is his passport for a musical journey. You can learn a lot from a conversation with Guy because he sprinkles knowledge combined with a lot of laughs. Interviewing Guy Belanger is time well spent and you can’t help but smile when you talk with him.


Ken Wallis interviewed Guy Belanger for the radio show BluesSource Canada. The following are excerpts from that interview, amended and edited for brevity and clarity.



Ken Wallis

Guy Belanger has a brand-new album out. It’s entitled Voyages and I was fortunate enough to see Guy perform at the Orangeville Blues And Jazz Festival. Boy, do you really love being up on stage!


Guy Belanger

It's great. You know I'm 65, so it's great to exercise. [LAUGHS] I need some exercise so jumping on stage with the boys is really fun.


Ken Wallis

Your newest album is entitled Voyages. What's the significance of the title?


Guy Belanger

It’s more stories. I did seven albums and two soundtracks. All the titles except the first one, but all the other albums were Crossroads or Dusty Trails or Blues Turn, or Traces And Scars, El Dorado. So, it's always the road. But this one is Voyages because we had this long life stop for a couple of years. And we had to reorganize everything, so I said okay, I can't travel around, I'm gonna travel in my little studio here and I'm going to look at old photos and try to draw a map of what was happening with me.


Ken Wallis

A lot of the tunes on the album are instrumentals. How do you come up with that music?


Guy Belanger

As you heard, it's not full Blues, but I think it's because I do a lot of soundtracks and music for TV series, as we say. I hope my English is good today, I woke up at seven to practice [Laugh]. The harmonica always brings me in these areas. I'm crazy about Ry Cooder, and stuff like that, and the delta blues and all those stories. I like to bring my harmonica somewhere else, where you’re not waiting for the harmonica in the song.


Ken Wallis

What I really find interesting, is with some of the instrumentals, and I'm gonna go through a couple of them here, how do you come up with the titles? For instance, Bayou's Ride. Why is that song called Bayou's Ride?


Guy Belanger

Because the jumping side of it, because it reminds me of the south of the USA. It's like being on the road, and the way the drum is playing, it reminds me a little bit of John Cleary and Dr John and all those guys.

Ken Wallis

Okay what about Duck Soup? Where did that title come from?


Guy Belanger

Duck Soup it's not my composition. There was a band in the late 70s, 80s. They used to be roadies for the Allman Brothers. They were in the same company, on Capricorn Records. The band was called Wet Willy and it was a great band, with this guy Jimmy Hall. He was singing, playing harmonica and playing saxophone on it. He's a great singer. He did some stuff with Jeff Beck on The Guitar Shop album, and he did a solo album called Rendezvous With The Blues. And they did this Duck Soup song, and I don't want to be rude, but there's a mistake in the construction of this song. They didn't listen to it after recording. So I said Oh Jimmy I'm going to help you. [Laugh]. I love the swinging stuff, when a little band sounds like a big band. I really like that, it's a jump that puts a smile on your face.


Ken Wallis

And the other one I'm gonna ask about is The Sun Will Rise


Guy Belanger

There's a song called Kilimandjaro and it's really near my heart. There's a girl, she was a teacher and she stopped teaching and with her husband they went to Tanzania and they climbed the Kilimanjaro. Two weeks after they came back, they told her, you have pancreatic cancer. She did the climb without knowing it. She's still around after three years. She's a fighter, she's an inspiration, she's a tough cookie, always smiling. Right now she's traveling a lot. She said they don't want to insure me when I travel and I don't have to pay for insurance so I have more money to travel. So Kilimanjaro was the first one and if you listen to it at the end of the song, you hear children singing. It's a little song the kids used to sing at in school because she went to different schools. To make a long story short. The Sun Will Rise is an answer to Covid. It's as simple as that.


Ken Wallis

And you have some special guests on this album.


Guy Belanger

On all the albums I always had great singers. On this one, there’s Sylvie Desgroseilliers and Nanette Workman. They are fantastic and we did the Nina Simone song Do I Move You.

I'm doing some soundtracks for films, a film called Gas Bar Blues and there’s an English version of Gas Bar Blues, you can find it on YouTube. My brother is a filmmaker so I'm always doing his soundtracks. There's a guy called Claude Fradette who came on the album and he brought a song called Nieve, which means the rain. I love to I love to work with this guy. He’s a fantastic musician and a great melodist.


Ken Wallis

I was amazed when I saw you live. You had a whole belt of harmonicas around your waist. How in the world do you decide which harmonica you're going to use?


Guy Belanger

I look on the floor at the sheets, and there's a c d e c a g. On the belt it's all in order. But sometimes before going on stage, the guys are changing the harmonica's place on my belt. [Laugh] So now I need glasses, so I had to print big letters on the harmonicas.


Ken Wallis

Well it's a fabulous album and I hope a lot of our listeners go out and get it. Where is the album available?


Guy Belanger

In stores, it's just available in Quebec province, but it's available on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, and other platforms. It’s really easy to get. I used to be a graphic artist, so I always do my CD cover and inner sleeves, in English and French. So you can open the album like we used to do 10 or 20 years ago. I work hard on these covers. I write a little text on each song so I think on iTunes you can have the virtual booklet. You buy the album, push a button and they give you a code and you have the real thing. I think it’s important, I have to explain myself sometimes about the choices I do with my music. When some people come to me on stage and they love this song for the music and for the story. I think it's interesting when it meshes together.


Ken Wallis

Well I've been listening to your music for quite a few years and I've thoroughly enjoy it. I love harmonica and I call you the master of the harmonica. Guy I really appreciate your time and hopefully I'll get to see you live again sometime in the next 20 years or so.


Guy Belanger

[Laughing] I'll be 85 so you'll be 75.


Ken Wallis

No you're going the wrong way for me unfortunately.


Guy Belanger

Okay yeah we won't tell anyone, it's just audio but on this video we look good.[More laughter]





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