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Blues legend Terry Robb playing show in Parksville June 9

Robb and ‘Big Hank’ Leonhardt playing concert at Knox United Church
Finger picking guitarist Terry Robb will play a show at Knox United Church in Parksville on June 9. (Contributed photo)

Blues guitar virtuoso Terry Robb is recognized internationally for his signature finger picking style that’s earned him a multitude of accolades.

In a career spanning four decades, he has incorporated elements from Delta blues, ragtime, country, swing and jazz to create his distinct sound.

He and ‘Big Hank’ Leonhardt will perform at Knox United Church in Parksville on June 9.

“We mix it up a bit. It’s always fun,” Robb said. “I do my solo act, which has a lot of original stuff in it. Ragtime, finger-style guitar and some blues. Hank and I play together and we do some of his original stuff.”

He and Leonhardt met through David Vest, the well-known southern U.S.-born boogie-woogie piano player who now lives in Victoria.

Robb went to a Christmas show by Vest and Leonhardt, where the two struck up a friendship and since then they’ve played shows together on either side of the border.

Robb and Vest recorded an album of duets in Duncan which will be released in October. He is also working on new music for a solo album and plans to head back to the studio in August to record.

His upcoming solo album will be mainly instrumental and will even feature a violin on some tracks.

“I usually start with a melody or a rhythm and then I add the harmony later,” he said.

The lyrics to a song can often start with a single sentence getting stuck in his mind.

“You just hear somebody say something or read something. Something that pops in your head, and then you just start writing along, adding to that, what the story might be,” Robb said.

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His 2019 album Confessin’ My Dues was nominated for a Blues Music Award and won a Muddy Award for Northwest Recording of the Year in 2019.

The 13-track album features originals influenced by everything from Jimi Hendrix to John Coltrane to ragtime and Americana. Confessin’ My Dues climbed to the Billboard Blues Album Chart and the UK’s International Blues Broadcasters Album Chart.

The B.C.-born Robb won the Muddy Award for Best Acoustic Guitar 19 years in a row, so the Cascade Blues Association in his home of Portland finally decided to name the trophy in his honour in 2011.

Robb was influenced by rock groups like Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, as well as acoustic blues artists like John Fahey.

He studied music theory under the classical composer Tomáš Svoboda at Portland State University.

Using a guitar pick felt unnatural and so Robb developed the distinctive finger-picking style that he has become well-known for.

He is also a singer, composer, arranger and record producer, but ultimately he is a performer at heart.

Robb said he can’t see himself doing any else except music for his career.

“I’ve never applied for a job, but I’m kind of applying for a job every time I get on stage,” he said.

The concert starts at 2 p.m. Doors open at 1:30 p.m.

Tickets are $25 and are available online via Eventbrite and with cash at Parksville retailers Close to You Boutique and Fireside Books. Knox United Church is located at 346 Pym St.

Kevin Forsyth

About the Author: Kevin Forsyth

As a lifelong learner, I enjoy experiencing new cultures and traveled around the world before making Vancouver Island my home.
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