ECMA win big for Beauwa­ter

St. John’s blues rock­ers have Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion roots

The Compass - - Front page - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Beauwa­ter is a hard-rock­ing trio, with all of its mem­bers hav­ing ties to the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion area. Ear­lier this year, the band won an East Coast Mu­sic Award for best blues record­ing. The big win mo­ti­vated the band to keep its in­stru­ments plugged in, while the ex­pe­ri­ence of per­form­ing in Saint John, N.B. at the in­dus­try event has Beauwa­ter think­ing about fur­ther trips off the is­land.

ST. JOHN’S, NL — The mem­bers of St. John’s rock band Beauwa­ter have played to­gether for al­most a decade, and are now in the midst of a par­tic­u­larly fruit­ful pe­riod.

In April, the band earned an East Coast Mu­sic Award for best blues record­ing, hon­our­ing its 2016 sopho­more re­lease, “Lovers, Fools and Kings.” The band was in Saint John, N.B. for the awards, hav­ing also re­ceived an op­por­tu­nity to per­form at a show­case, and were sur­prised enough by the nom­i­na­tion.

“We just had our show­case set … which was to a packed house,” drum­mer Michael Mad­dox told The Com­pass. “We re­ally won the crowd over and we were ex­cited and just happy to do that.”

Mem­bers of the group — Mad­dox, gui­tarist-vo­cal­ist Jonathon Reid and bas­sist Greg Ne­whook — were still tak­ing their gear off stage when the win­ner was an­nounced.

“We just ran off stage as quick as we could and we barely made it to the back,” said Mad­dox. “I didn’t re­ally hear our band name. I heard them an­nounce the al­bum’s name. We just lost it.”

Reid and Ne­whook are both from Nor­man’s Cove and grad­u­ated from high school at Cres­cent Col­le­giate in Blake­town, while Mad­dox is from the Con­cep­tion Bay com­mu­nity of Adams Cove and grad­u­ated from Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate.

It was Mad­dox who placed an ad on a mes­sage board look­ing for peo­ple to jam with. He heard from Ne­whook, and the two started work­ing to­gether. Ne­whook and Reid had a mu­si­cal his­tory, and when a group Mad­dox and Ne­whook were in fell apart, Reid was brought on board.

“I used to live off of Hig­gins Line in St. John’s and so did Greg, and Johnny either got fogged in or snowed in when he was do­ing a turn­around to Al­berta. So he was stay­ing with Greg and he was won­der­ing if any­one played any mu­sic around, so they came over for a jam — and that was nine years ago. We’ve been a band ever since.”

Their shared love of clas­sic rock brought them to­gether ini­tially. Reid and Ne­whook were also fond of the blues, and as their chem­istry de­vel­oped, the mu­sic started to cen­tre around bluesy riffs and rhythms.

“Johnny re­ally turned me on to guys like Ste­vie Ray Vaughan and all that stuff,” said Mad­dox, also point­ing to the early-1970s out­put of the Rolling Stones as a piv­otal in­flu­ence on the band’s mu­sic. “A lot of our clas­sic rock he­roes are heav­ily in­flu­enced by the blues, so I think it was bound to hap­pen any­way.”

Af­ter re­leas­ing their de­but al­bum “Movin’ On” in 2011, Beauwa­ter took their time to pre­pare for a sec­ond al­bum. The band hooked up with St. John’s singer-song­writer Chris Kirby — known to have an affin­ity for rhythm and blues, soul and funk — to pro­duce their most re­cent ef­fort. Mad­dox said the band was more than im­pressed with Kirby’s con­tri­bu­tions to the mu­sic.

“Chris re­ally helped our writ­ing,” said Mad­dox. “He re­ally fo­cused on cer­tain as­pects that were lack­ing from our pre­vi­ous al­bum. On our pre­vi­ous al­bum, we did no pre-pro­duc­tion — we just had a bunch of songs … What Chris brought to us was a way of sched­ul­ing and putting fo­cus and re­ally de­vel­op­ing our song­writ­ing side. It was a plea­sure to work with him. He came in and was like a fourth mem­ber.”

The ECMA win opened the band’s eyes to the value of hard work. Hav­ing played to­gether for so long, they’ve rec­og­nized the chal­lenges of at­tract­ing an au­di­ence in a St. John’s mu­sic scene dom­i­nated by tra­di­tional folk mu­sic.

“It’s just some­thing we do that we re­ally en­joy,” said Mad­dox. “We do it in our spare time. We all have jobs … But this win was a ma­jor sur­prise. It mo­ti­vates us to keep do­ing it and just get­ting bet­ter at it.”

With that in mind, the band is con­sid­er­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties on the main­land for gigs.

“That’s the first time we got to play a show off the is­land in our nine years of be­ing to­gether, so we kind of got bit­ten by a bug while we were up there.”

We­blink: https://www. beauwa­ter.ca/

It’s just some­thing we do that we re­ally en­joy.

Michael Mad­dox

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

New­found­land blues-rock group Beauwa­ter fea­tures, from the left, Michael Mad­dox, Jonathon Reid and Greg Ne­whook. The band re­cently picked up an East Coast Mu­sic Award.

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