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  • The Sound Cafe

Ken Wallis Chats With Toronto-Based Blues & Roots Artist Jake Chisholm



Jake Chisholm is a Toronto-based bluesman who loves and performs all kinds of music. He continues to grow and mature his music, while at the same time, exploring different genres of music. He calls himself a student of music, and no doubt he’s an honours student. His latest album features some really tight songs that resonate with lyrics that put a positive spin on life.


Ken Wallis interviewed Jake Chisholm for the radio show BluesSource Canada. The following excerpts from that interview and were edited for brevity and clarity.




Ken Wallis

There’s a new album out, Hands Held High. It’s Jake Chisholm, and we're thrilled to see Jake. How you doing?


Jake Chisholm

I'm great Ken, thanks for having me on.


Ken Wallis

It's a fabulous album, I've really been enjoying it. I have to ask the obvious question. Hands Held High, what's the significance of that?


Jake Chisholm

I would say it's just a sort of a positive chorus or a positive feeling and it could be different for anybody or everybody. It could even be different for you, depending on the day. It’s just sort of a positive affirmation.


Ken Wallis

The album kicks off with a short tune, Muddy Water, and the lyrics “soon the sun will shine”. That really sets the tone of the whole album.


Jake Chisholm

Yeah, that song I wrote with Steve Mariner. Actually, we wrote it just before the first lockdowns of the pandemic, but it kind of came to fruition in the studio. We came up with the final lyrics and all those guitar harmonies in the studio.


Ken Wallis

And you've got some kick-butt artists on this album with you.


Jake Chisholm

It's produced by Darcy Yates who also played bass on it. Darcy and I, actually his production style was just to write a lot together. So, we wrote almost 40 songs, and then we picked 10 that worked really well together. It was sort of like distilling down, until the vision became really clear.


Ken Wallis

And who else is on the album with you?


Jake Chisholm

Darcy Yates plays bass, Ian Mckeown, plays drums, a fantastic drummer. Jimmy Bowskill plays a lot of lead guitar. Jim and I are both on guitar for all the tracks. Steve Mariner engineered it and also sang some backups on our song, Muddy Water. There's a little bit of guest harmonica from Paul Reddick on She's Just Playin’, cool harmonica track from Paul on that one.


Ken Wallis

And there's also a couple of very recognizable names that have contributed to the inside of the album cover.


Jake Chisholm

This is my first time on a label actually. This record came out on Electro-Fi and Andrew Galloway at Electro-Fi and I, we've known each other for years. It's been a great pleasure to be working with him and Electro-Fi. There was a lot of support behind the record, and we recorded it during the pandemic. A lot of my music friends and I were around and not playing much. We used the opportunity to record and play some music together, which was great. I have to say to Ken, I've had the pleasure of doing this for a while, but I've never had a recording session that felt like that. It was very special, very cathartic. I think for all of us and all the all the takes that you hear on the album are the first or second take of us playing as a band in the room.


Ken Wallis

And you've also got Raoul who’s written a bit on the inside of the cover too.


Jake Chisholm

Yeah, my good friend Raoul Bhaneja, he contributed to the liner notes, he and Andrew from Electro-Fi both wrote something. And I was very touched, actually I had no idea what they were going to write until the printed album came back. I was very honoured to read what they wrote. It was great.


Ken Wallis

And there's some live cuts.


Jake Chisholm

It was all done live off the floor, and then we did a day of singing background vocals, and we even played some tambourines and percussion during the vocal overdub day, to just beef up the choruses a little bit and have it sound a little more arranged.


Ken Wallis

I just love the guitar work that's on the album, but the album is not just a guitar album. It's got some solid compositions on it. How do you go about writing your tunes? Does the music come to your mind first or do the lyrics come first?


Jake Chisholm

For me actually, I think always the music comes first, usually just when I'm sitting with a guitar. Sometimes when I'm learning another song or just playing, something will come into my mind. I find even though I'm a singer, I actually find writing lyrics really hard. It's hard to be original and not sort of rewrite something that's already been written. I kind of agonize more over the lyrics. It takes me a little more editing, I would say.


Ken Wallis

Not only have you got your own album, but you've been doing a lot of studio sessions with other artists as well.


Jake Chisholm

Yeah, I've done lots of studio sessions on guitar and singing and I really love the studio. I think the studio is its own sort of canvas. It's a whole set of skills that you can learn, you can get better at making records and recording and I find that really challenging and humbling.

Ken Wallis

I understand one of your mentors was Jeff Healey.


Jake Chisholm

Yeah, when I was quite young actually. I met Jeff I think when I was about 20 years old, probably my first year of trying to play music for a living in the clubs in Toronto. We were playing a show and he came in with a group of friends, and he sat and listened to a set and then he walked right up to me and he asked who was singing? And I said me, and we sat at a table and drank draft beer for two hours together and we were friends from that point on. He couldn't help but be a musical mentor because of the level of commitment to music that he had as a person, and the level of, like I don't like the word talent, because musicians work really hard to be able to do what they do. But I think the word talent could apply to Jeff. He was remarkable, so just hanging out with him and talking about music and jamming with him was huge. I consider it like my university years.


Ken Wallis

Is there any one artist that you really look up to besides Jeff Healey?


Jake Chisholm

I would say I'm a student of music. I love all sorts of music. I mean I love blues and rock and roll, it's sort of my first love, but I also love soul and R&B, and classical music, and folk music. I consider myself a student of music and a lover of music, not only to play it and to keep learning about it. The other side to music is that it has an amazing ability to soothe and unite people, and calm people down and let them have some fun. I'm a deep believer in all things music, all the things that music can do.


Ken Wallis

For fans out there, how do they get your album?


Jake Chisholm

You can get CD copies of it from Electro-Fi.com or my website which is jakechishom.ca, but it's also on all the streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify YouTube, it's available globally. We're kind of trying to feel out interest, but if there's enough people interested, we're thinking of doing a small run of vinyl too. I'm a fan of vinyl. I like listening to stuff on vinyl. There are a lot of people that are into vinyl these days.


Ken Wallis

I just read an interesting article that CDs are making a comeback, which I'm very surprised at.


Jake Chisholm

I've read that too. I'm a little bit surprised but at the same time, I've always bought albums and collected them, and I can see people missing having a bookshelf with a bunch of albums on it that they can share amongst devices or send to friends. So yeah, I could see why it would come back.

Ken Wallis

It's a great album, Jake it’s been great talking with you again and just one other question. Any tours coming up?


Jake Chisholm

We’re working on all that right now. The album is getting radio play in the States, in Europe, and in Canada so I think there'll be a lot going on come festival season. We're looking forward to playing it more with the band live.

Ken Wallis

Well, I sure hope I see you because I go to just about every festival that I can during the summer.


Jake Chisholm

I bet we’ll see each other.


Ken Wallis

Jake it's been a real pleasure talking with you, again thank you


Jake Chisholm

Ken thanks for having me.




"This music you find at your fingertips is a celebration of standing strong with hands held

high. It will be the coolness in the darkness. It is music that grins in the face of unsung days.

Impassioned and scrappy, rockin’ and so very groovous, Jake Chisholm finds fire with his voice, his guitar, and with his true swagger-brothers in electrified cahoots : Darcy Yates, Bass, Jimmy Bowskill, Stringed Instruments, Ian Mckeown, Drums.


Song by song you have the remedy of ‘it’s about time’ tune writing, singing and playing. This music’s engine runs right, on the renewable energy of what was, what is, what will be.


This record contains a whole lot of what you’ve been thinking about and dreaming of. Give me love for all my days.


Turn up, rock out, throw down, lean in. " - Jake Chisholm.





Website: www.jakechisholm.ca

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jake.chisholm.90

Twitter: twitter.com/JakeChisholm2

Instagram: www.instagram.com/jakechisholmband




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