Entertainment

Shufflin’ the Blues at the Arts Station

Veteran guitarist Jon Burden has been playing the blues professionally for over 25 years. - Photo by P. McLachlan
Veteran guitarist Jon Burden has been playing the blues professionally for over 25 years.
— image credit: Photo by P. McLachlan

By Phil McLachlan

Holly Hyatt and Jon Burden took the spotlight at the Fernie Arts Station on Friday night, giving the audience some old-school blues to tap their feet to.

A father-and-daughter band, Hyatt and Burden have become known for their unique sound, which encompasses a twist on classic blues, with a guitar sound similar to Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Jon Burden is the guitarist, and has been playing this genre professionally since 1989. Before this, Burden played bluegrass and country rock.

In the past, Burden played in a bluegrass band around the Elk Valley called The Bitterroot Mountain Band. Eventually moving to Alberta, the four musicians started a country rock circuit throughout Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. Burden was in the area long enough to see it change its name to Prairie Mile Band, before moving back west to B.C.

After this, Burden played with a group out of Kimberley known as Knee Deep, and then went on to play in Whitehorse with Hal Whitford, who has since passed on but previously sang in the Canadian rock group known as 451 Degrees.

Next, Burden started his own bands, one being Hair Of The Dog, while also playing as a backup musician for blues legend, Sonny Rhodes.

Nowadays, Burden resides in the Slocan Valley with his daughter, but is often away from home as they tour.

The first time Burden heard the blues was when The Rolling Stones put out Little Red Rooster, the only blues song to ever hit number one on the charts. Burden started tracing the blues back in time, learning as much as he could by listening to the greats, inspired by live performances by icons of the genre such as Willie Dixon and his group.

“My introduction to blues was probably hearing him play blues,” said his daughter, Hyatt.

Holly Hyatt takes the position of the bassist in the group, and has been playing with her father since childhood. A bass fell into her arms at the age of nine, but it wasn’t until a little later that they started playing professionally together. This year marks their 15th year together as a band.

Hyatt finds the blues inspiring for many reasons. She feels as though she is singing and playing songs that have been formed and sculpted through time, in different ways.

“There’s a lot of history to the blues, which I think is important to recognize and honour,” said Hyatt. “It’s a music that’s really based off of being passionate and being in the moment with it and conveying a lot of feeling with it.”

Hyatt and Burden have produced three official CD’s, and one demo. With every CD they release, they consider it an accomplishment. Promoting themselves to the point where hearing their music on the radio is also considered an accomplishment. In addition, playing with his daughter is a huge achievement for Burden.

“Playing with Holly is an accomplishment, because we still get along,” he said. “It’s very cool, because I’ve played with all kinds of people.

“A lot of times I don’t even think about the fact that she is my daughter,” Burden added. “It’s because she is a great musician; I enjoy playing with her, I love singing with her and hearing her sing. And I love hearing her play bass. It’s great, it’s wonderful.”

Hyatt and Burden have one more show in their 11-show tour, and then they will be taking a hiatus for the holiday season. Their latest CD, Shufflin’ the Blues has done extremely well and is catching air-time across the country. The new year will bring another step towards expanding their audience, with dreams of recording a studio album in the south, sometime in the future.

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