Inner View: Colin Dussault Blues Project, & More
by John O’Brien, Jr.
Colin Dussault is a Bluesman, a man of soul, with influences gotten and given that range across the spectrum of music. Folk, and Blues of course, plus Scottish, Bluegrass, Appalachian, Country, Jazz, Swing, Reggae, Motown and occasional polka, and those who play it. They include, but by no means is a complete list, like Blind Willie McTell, Muddy Waters, Country Joe and the Fish, Woody Guthrie, Doc Watson, the Beatles, Bob Dylan – they are all part of the eclectic fabric and force that is Colin Dussault.
From these influences, passion and introspection, Colin has built an impressive knowledge and understanding of a plethora of music and musical styles, and moves easily from Blues, to Irish to rock or country, and most other songs too, feeding off the excitement and energy of his listeners to give them what they want, and so much more.
Colin is a legend, not just locally, but across music spectrums, for his shows, his passion and his purpose – sharing the legacy of the music in him, with and for others. His father, Artie, was a bass player, and had a vast collection of records that Colin was exposed to and mined, since he was a young boy. Colin’s collection is about 15,000 records, and Colin and his daughter Sophia buy new records all the time. He has many, many more now.
“I’ve got an eclectic collection of records from flea markets, antique malls, record stores locally and regionally. I’m always looking for new stuff.”
Colin’s sharing goes much further than local. Some of those he has shared the stage with include Bo Diddley, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Bad Company, Robert Lockwood Jr., Blood Sweat & Tears, Buckwheat Zydeco, Jeff Healey … and the list goes on, and on. These were just the one’s I could write down as Colin reviewed what he most remembers and loves.
In the Beginning: The 30-year music veteran had his first gig on May 13, 1989, his 19thbirthday, at the Ultimate Sports Bar, which is now Bobby O’s, in Lakewood, Ohio:
“I remember it – there was a line out the door; I made some money; I thought this was cool. I can do this. I want to do this. I devoted myself to it from the very beginning. We out-work everyone. I want to stay that way.”
Colin’s working roots and values pervade our discussion. It is who he is, humble and funny, gifted and insightful. and Colin has both the rough road and the highlights of a life well-dedicated, and well lived, to prove it, playing 4-5 nights a week most weeks, right here in and around Cleveland. And the stories … Oh, the stories, I can’t put in print…
“Our ideal is to work four to six nights a week. We book out twelve to fourteen months ahead. Sometimes it is all that and more, other weeks might have less gigs, but it is our goal.
“Keeping the music alive and continuing the legacy of the music. It was old when I started; it is still relevant, viable. Soulful blues and thoughtful harmonica players with Celtic, bluegrass, soul, country – thirty years went quick. It has been a lot of hard work. I am blessed to be able to do this.
“Leonard Cohen said, ‘success is just a matter of survival.’ You give and you get so much more back when you connect. It makes it so worthwhile. Connection can be amazing, doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, Wow!
“I love the Pogues, Van Morrison, Eric Burden, since I was 15 years old. They were big influences; Joe Cocker – a huge part of 30 years of blues; the Yardbirds, Rolling Stones, Planxty, the Chieftains. Being a musician, you were often pigeonholed. I won’t be, I love so many styles of music – it is all interlaced, influencing each other, and me.”
“I love folk, Scottish, Bluegrass, Appalachian- it’s all there. We do 150 to 200 nights a year. It is very satisfying when someone says, ‘I didn’t think I liked the blues; but you guys were just great.
“My favorite complement was when Blues legend Robert Lockwood, Jr. said to me, ‘Colins you are funky like a goat.’
“I am the Scottish guy who loves the blues. The English bands of the 1960s showed us what we are had right in our backyard, with the Stones etc. [Like Makem & Clancy on the Ed Sullivan show did for Irish music in Ireland].
“I had an unknown affinity for her, for the blues, for Celtic music; it’s a language that we know, we are spoken to. The music of the isles spoke to my soul; it spoke to my inner most heart.
“My grandfather on my mother’s side was Scottish; he wore a kilt, and really enjoyed live music. He passed away 10 years ago, and I got a lot of heirlooms, but especially the music. My great uncle was Phil Barker, from Scotland, but he lived in Cleveland. He and my grandfather were sign painters. They did it by hand.
“My great uncle Phil recorded on the Parlaphone London Record Label in the 1940s. He recorded several songs and 78 rpm recordings on and for the Parlaphone/London label. I converted the songs to listen to from old technology. He had a lot of sheet music too that I now have.
“My dad was a bass player in high school. He was 18 when he had a record deal with United Artists. I remember riding on the back of a motorcycle with him. I remember going to band rehearsals at the house, crawling around as they were practicing.
“I have my daughter, with a larger than life personality. My bandmates and I are journeyman musicians who make a living. That’s amazing. I have lived in my house 50 years. My dad had it before me. I am surrounded by great talent in the band. I am a PT Barnum – I’m a singer, a promotor. I have never lost sight of that.”
Facilities don’t last 30 years but the band has. Fine wine and Colin Dussault’s Blues Project get better with time. His current passion though, is a Van Morrison Tribute, called Into the Mystic with Nitesbridge, featuring Colin Dussault and Maurice “Moss” Stanley, plus an 11-member band of immense talent, sharing their love of Van’s music and more.
Vocalist Ms. Billie Mitchell; Ms. Michelle George on violin; guitar & vocals Ed Callahan; Sam Hooper on guitar; Toby Packard on drums; John Atzy on bass; Norm Tischler on flute; Dan Wenninger on saxophone; Jabril Barnes on trumpet and Nelson Orta on percussion join Colin. Each compliment and lifts the others; they feed off each other. When they are in, it is pure magic. If you don’t know the names, you are missing great talent, so schedule your time wisely, and see some of the best blues, and the best Cleveland, has to offer.
Colin has 10 CD’s and one video on his own Erica record label. Colin Dussault Blues Project is Colin on vocals & harmonica; Jim Feeny, guitar; John Atzberger, bass, vocals; Steve Zavesky, drus; Brent Lane, keyboards; Robbie, the roadieGet his music, gigs list and more at colindussault.com or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/colin.dussault.1
*John is the Publisher and Editor of the OhioIANews, a spokesman, emcee and author of four books.