Ry Cooder performing with Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White, McGlohon Theater, Charlotte, NC, August 19, 2015. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Ry Cooder coming to Vancouver Island MusicFest

American music icon to play in Comox Valley July 14

A booking 20 years in the making, Doug Cox has finally reeled in one of his all-time favourites.

Ry Cooder will grace the main stage at Vancouver Island MusicFest this summer.

Cooder is slated as the Saturday evening feature performer for the three-day festival, July 13-15 at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds.

Cox, the artistic director/executive producer of the annual event doesn’t mind admitting this one is as much for him as it is for everyone else.

“I’ve been trying to get him for 20, 21 years now,” said Cox, who didn’t mince words when asked where he would rank Cooder. “He is my all-time favourite, for sure.

“I’ve always really admired him. He’s been a huge inspiration to me, as a musician… probably more so than any other player, just with the path he has taken with his career – all his different ventures. He’s played on a lot of my favourite albums of all time and is my favourite slide guitar player. I try not to ‘fan out’ on a lot of people, but this one is really special.”

The 70-year-old American guitar legend has released 14 studio solo albums in the past 47 years, as well as 13 different collaboration efforts.

He is credited as a guest musician on more than 70 other albums, playing with everyone from Eric Clapton to the Rolling Stones.

Cooder has won six Grammy Awards (for six different projects, no less), and is even a published author. His collection of short stories, Los Angeles Stories, was published in 2011.

In its 2015 list of 100 Greatest Guitarists, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Ry Cooder as No. 31 all-time.

“Cooder’s life on guitar has been distinguished by a rare mix of archaic fundamentals and exploratory passion, from his emergence as a teenage blues phenomenon with Taj Mahal and Captain Beefheart in the mid-Sixties to his roots-and-noir film soundtracks and central role in the birth and success of the 1996 Havana supersession Buena Vista Social Club,” reads the article, in part.

“Even more important than what the critics say, I don’t think there’s a serious guitar player who writes music that doesn’t name him as a major influence,” added Cox. “He really has that big of a reach.”

Cox credits Cooder’s BVSC project as one of the greatest reasons for the rejuvenation of Cuban music in this part of the world.

“He really re-introduced Cuban music to the North American market through the Beuna Vista Social Club records that he produced,” said Cox.

Cox said Cooder will be bringing a full band, which will include his son, Joachim Cooder, on drums.

“I’m not sure who will be coming with him. I do know he’s bringing a full band, and his son is coming, for sure, and his son is probably going to be featured at the festival with his own trio, as well.”

Despite being Saturday’s headliner, Cooder won’t be closing the show that evening.

Canadian blues vocalist Shakura S’Aida will have that honour, bringing her high-energy act to the Comox Valley and returning to the MusicFest stage she last graced in 2012.

Earlybird weekend passes are available at the festival’s website.

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