Sunset Concerts 2015: Chris Canas Band Brings the Blues

For Chris Canas, the blues has mass appeal because at the heart of every performance is something to
Leah Williams
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For Chris Canas, the blues has mass appeal because at the heart of every performance is something to which nearly everyone can relate.

“I think that it will remain for the most part a music-lover’s genre, but artists like B.B. King really helped bring it out to the mainstream,” Canas said.

The Chris Canas Band will play to the next Sunset Concert crowd Thursday, July 2 on the steps of Shryock Auditorium.

For more information about Canas, check out <http://www.ChrisCanas.net>.

Nightlife chatted with Canas to learn more about the up-and-coming blues artist. Read on to find out how legendary blues artist B.B. King and The Simpsons helped Canas mold his organic, diverse style.

How important was music to you when you were growing up?

Music to me when I was growing up was essential. A lot of times people turn to religion, therapy, or something else. I turned to music. Whenever I got upset or sent to my room I would practice my cornet for hours on end. I later turned to piano, bass, drums, and then guitar. Music is the pillar of good mental health for me, and I like to say it saved my life and still does to this day.

How did you feel when you listened to a blues song for the first time?

The first blues song I heard that I can remember was from the album The Simpsons Sing the Blues. I believe it was the “Moaning Lisa Blues” that started my journey. I knew I liked the way it sounded, but it wasn’t until I heard B.B. King’s “Thrill is Gone” that I became engulfed in everything about the blues. It made me feel sad, depressed, lonely, and like giving up on everything. However, I also felt hope, determination, and focus as I wanted to be able to express my emotions that way to another human being. The guitar was pulling at my heart, and the orchestra and bass line coerced my very soul to electrify. I knew I was struck by blues lightning from the opening line.

What does the blues mean to you?

The blues to me is the most raw form of musical expression. It can lift you up, bring you down, make you happy, make you sad, and everything in between. I’ll take some words from Mister King to help me describe the blues: “It’s like a good [liniment], it’s good for whatever ails you.” Sometimes it feels like the root of everything to me, but above all else the blues means “freedom” in my eyes. It was born out of suffering as a way to communicate the hard times on the plantation to evolve into the root of rock ‘n’ roll and basically all music today in some way.

Your website bio said you are finishing your sixth album, Would You Mind. Can you tell me about this project?

Would You Mind is going to be my best work yet, I believe. It will feature songs in the style of jazz, blues, urban blues, funk, country, neo-soul, soul, and a style I don’t really have a name for. I have been writing for about two years off and on. I usually have a certain time of year where the songs just flew out of me like a waterfall, then I finish them and get back to living life until it happens again. The style I’m going for is passion. I like to do everything with passion and if I don’t feel what I’m writing then my audience won’t feel it either. Even when I listen to music or cover a song, I try and empathize with what the artist is going through and portray that with pure emotion and passion. I’ve seen too many times when people just sing the lyrics, as opposed to truly feeling every line and imagining yourself in that situation. I want to try and pull people into my world so they can understand what I was going through when the song was conceived. There are a plethora of emotions involved in this new album, and I hope it comes across.

How you describe your style?

I would say my style borrows tidbits from every style of music. I don’t only listen to blues twenty-four/seven/365, so you will hear some of everything in there. You will hear some Prince, B.B. King, D’angelo, Al Green, Miles Davis, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, Bob Marley, George Benson, and even some Travis Tritt in my style. I try to be as musically diverse as possible. Maybe that’s my style— diversity.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

I would like to say thank you on behalf of the Chris Canas Band for having us and taking the time to get to know us a little bit better. The blues is special to me and so are the people trying to keep it alive. My new mission is to keep this incredible piece of American culture moving forward and moving upward. It’s a great bitter sweet moment when I heard for the very first time in a long, long time B.B. King’s “Thrill is Gone” on a local big-name radio station in my car. It was sweet to hear people call in and show appreciation and claim they had to pull over and just enjoy. It was bitter because my blues and guitar hero had just passed away on my mother’s birthday and it was a shame that it took him having to pass away for blues to be in the mainstream. But I’m sure he’s smiling down on all of us!

who: Chris Canas

what: Sunset Concerts (blues)

where: Steps of Shryock Auditorium

 

when: Thursday, July 2