1. Name, place of birth, where living now?
I was born in Montréal (Outremont Stuart & Van Horne) Now I live in Laval
2. When and how did you first get involved with music?
I have enjoyed music for as long as I remember. I listened to my parents’ jazz album, a mix of swing tunes over and over - fascinated by the drums
3. Which instruments do you play?
Mainly drums and guitar and lately harmonicas (a work in progress)
4. Describe your first instrument.
My father gave me a guitar for Xmas when I was twelve. It was right handed one. I’m a lefty - the teacher didn’t believe in left-handed people so that was the end of that.
5. How did you get interested in these instruments?
At the age of 14 my dad bought me my first drum kit - no cymbals. At school a friend sold me a high hat and a very low-end ride. That was enough to get me started.
6. Is your family musical?
Only listeners. My mother listened to Gilbert Bécaud, Dean Martin... My sister was more into rock n roll. Mostly they would listen to the radio and Ed Sullivan on TV.
7. What are your fondest musical memories?
In 1967 my parents took me to the universal expo at Ile Ste-Hélêne at the Bavarian beer garden and I played a song on the drums with the band - never having played on a drum set before.
8. What was the first tune you learned?
“If I Had a Hammer”.
9. Who was your first teacher?
When I was twelve I joined a group of youngsters called L'Harmonie de Terrebonne and played the snare drum. The teacher was Mr. Jean-Paul Cadieux, who taught all instruments (horns and percussion). At school I got some lessons from guys who played in a band.
10. What are your influences in the Blues?
The shuffle is my favourite of all rhythms.
11. Which famous musicians do you admire and why?
Anybody who will go to any length to learn how to play.
12. Are there local musicians that you like, that you would recommend to go and see play?
Lately I've been enjoying jam nights around town - very friendly people. Turn off that TV or PC and get out there - it's live 'n' kickin’ out there...haha !!!
13. What makes a player unique?
Listening to many different styles and being able learn and play back that stuff - even if it's hard.
14. Which famous musicians have you learned from?
The very first album I listened to was Buddy Rich – also Gene Krupa playing Bernie's tune.
15. Do you have a favourite song, record or CD that has influenced you?
I listen to so much stuff...okay - John Bonham - ''Moby Dick''.
It was a pleasure.
1. Name, place of birth, where living now:
Pete Webb, born in Sherbrooke, QC; currently living in Sherbrooke, QC
2. When and how did you first get involved in music?
I started playing guitar in my teens after my parents bought me an acoustic guitar for Christmas. When we moved to Stratford, Ontario in the 1980s, I had been playing about a year when a couple of kids I met in a music store asked me to play rhythm guitar in their heavy metal band. I wasn’t very good and they kicked me out after a couple of months, but it got me started.
3. What instruments do you play?
Guitar and a bit of bass and harmonica. I’m also a lead singer.
4. Describe your first instrument. Other instruments.
I’m primarily an electric guitarist, rock and blues; mainly self-taught. I’ve sung for a long time and had formal vocal training in the early 1990s. Bass and harmonica are just instruments I’ve picked up along the way.
5. How did you get interested in these instruments?
My parents were from England and brought all the original Beatles albums with them to Canada. I grew up hearing these and pretty much idolized the Beatles, especially George Harrison. My Dad had a friend, Dave Gordon, who played guitar and loved Eric Clapton. When I was twelve, Dave gave me a few guitar lessons and took me to one of his band rehearsals at the hotel in Waterville, Quebec. Seeing a band play live for the first time got me hooked.
6. Is your family musical?
My immediate family was not musical in the sense of being musicans. But they were all huge music listeners.
7. Family members’ musical interests….
My Mum loved The Beatles, Jose Feliciano, and Glen Campbell. My Dad liked a lot of jazz and R&B, including Dave Brubeck, Isaac Hayes and Dionne Warwick. My three older sisters were into seventies rock such as Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, and Rod Stewart. The whole family also listened to classical music. So there was a lot of music around the house.
8. What are your fondest musical memories?
My parents playing records at home when I was a kid, on our quadraphonic home stereo that was state of the art at the time.
A later experience: In the early-1990s, I spent several months living and playing in Germany. On a short tour of the former East Germany, I was booked to play in a large church in a small town called Plau-am-Sea. This was very soon after the fall of the Iron Curtain and well outside the cultural centre of Berlin. There was a good deal of anticipation of having a “Western” musican come to play in Plau. The church was packed that night. It was just me and an acoustic guitar and a small P.A. After my regular set of original songs, the audience wanted more. So, starting with Elvis and Buddy Holly and moving my way forward, I played the people of Plau the history of rock ‘n roll – the first time most of these East Germans would have ever heard such a thing performed live.
9. First tune learned.
I don’t remember the actual first tune, but within my first six months or so of playing I learned things like “Hotel California” and “Smoke on the Water.”
10. Who was your first teacher? Any other teachers?
Mr. Lacroix, at the Honolulu music store in Sherbrooke, gave me several lessons, but I quit before long and was mostly self-taught after that. Much later, in Ontario, I did take voice lessons with a former professional opera singer for two years.
11. What are your influences in the blues?
My favourite blues songs are probably those of Robert Johnson. From a guitarist’s point of view, Robben Ford, Duane Allman, and Rory Gallagher are among my favourites. Among vocalists, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, and Van Morrison are tops.
12. Which famous musicians do you admire and why?
Robben Ford: Consummate musicianship, yet his music is always accessible and in spite of amazing guitar chops he always puts the song first/ rarely overplays. Plus, he seems like a modest and down to earth person in interviews.
Stevie Wonder: Probably the world’s greatest living all-around talent. Blind since birth, he became one of the world’s greatest singers, songwriters, and multi-instrumentalists. A true genius in my opinion.
Paul McCartney: He could have rested on his laurels decades ago and remained a legend – yet he keeps on touring and making new music, and always seems to play with enjoyment and integrity. He keeps aging but never seems “old” – and as I age myself, I find that inspiring.
13. Local musicans I like and would recommend…
Paul Arthur immediately springs to mind. I’ve known Paul about three years, have played with him on several occasions. He seems to epitomize the blues, and younger players can learn a lot from watching his commitment to the music and performing.
Ria Reece, Blues Z, Louis Janelle, George Papafylis – other local musicians people should go and see.
14. What makes a player unique?
Not worrying too much about current trends, but sticking to what feels natural. Not overtly copying other artists – turning musical tips into your own bag of tricks. Paying attention to groove and melody, not just showing off fast chops or technique for its own sake.
15. Which famous musicians have you learned from?
Warren Haynes: He has a book + CD course on slide guitar that taught me a lot about slide guitar technique.
BB King: I’ve spent many hours working through BB solos note for note, learning how economy of playing style can benefit one much more than pure speed or showing off.
16. Favourite songs, records, etc…
Among blues albums, some favourites are:
- Albert King, Born Under a Bad Sign
- Skip James, Devil Got My Woman
- Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues Singers
- Robben Ford, Bringing It Back Home
- Muddy Waters, Hard Again
- Allman Brothers, Live at Fillmore East
17. How would you describe the type of sound you have or would like to achieve?
I try to play fairly clean and economically, without a lot of effects pedals and so on. I’m not a flashy, over-the-top type of player. I try to play what is best for the song. I have a few guitars (Fenders, a Gibson, a Guild, etc.) that help me achieve different tones without any fancy tricks. I guess one trademark is I play a fair amount of slide guitar – so that’s one sound particular to my style.
18. Competitions and prizes.
I avoid competitions of any kind. I dislike being “competitive” in music.
19. What groups have you played with/ do you play with?
I currently play in several different bands: I’m the singer-guitarist in two blues bands, the Pete Webb Trio (based in Montreal) and the Sherby Blues Project (based in Sherbrooke). I’m the lead guitarist in an original rock band called The Fleming Sweep, based in Sherbrooke. I do a fair amount of “on call” stuff, where I play shows with anyone who needs a guitarist or singer on fairly short notice. Styles range from blues to rock to country, and I can play guitar, bass, and sing – so I’m pretty versatile.
20. Do you prefer the studio or live?
I used to do a lot of studio work back in the 1990s. I was even trained as a recording engineer at college back in the late 80s. But I much prefer the live experience to working in the studio.
21. What is your ideal gig (large or small venue)?
I’ve only played on really large stages a few times, and generally didn’t like it. I much prefer a mid-sized club with a receptive audience who is there to hear the music. Some of the best shows I’ve played over the past few years have been organized concerts in club venues for audiences of around 60-100 people, where the audience is attuned to the type of show and prepared to enjoy themselves.
22. Do you get nervous before a show?
Very rarely, actually. I’m a teacher in my daytime profession and have performed music for around 30 years, so being in front of an audience is pretty natural for me.
23. Is it more nerve-wracking to play in front of friends, other musicans, or a regular crowd?
As above, “nerve-wracking” is not something I experience very often. I’ve only had negative experiences when the gig involves playing for people who don’t care about the music – like at a couple of corporate events I’ve done in the last few months.
24. How do you handle mistakes in a performance?
Mistakes happen in nearly every performance. The main trick is not to react physically – most of the audience won’t notice. If it’s really noticeable, laugh it off or joke about it. Everyone’s human and none of this stuff is life or death.
25. How often and how long do you practice?
During “at home” time, it is probably an average of two hours per day. Although because of the number of projects I’m in, I’m at 3-hour band practices two or three nights a week.
26. What do you practice?
I mostly just practice songs and work out different ideas for soloing. From time to time, I’ll learn a particular solo or series of licks from a recording… something that pushes me to the limits of my ability so that I learn something new. I practice scales and finger exercises sometimes to keep my improvisational skills up to par.
27. Is playing a job, sheer pleasure, or both?
28. What is your next project?
I’d like to start a rhythm and blues band to play classic Motown/ Soul/ R&B. I love that type of music but have only dabbled in it over the years. I know a few musicians I may call upon to get such a project going.
29. What do you think of jam sessions, and how often do you attend them?
In general, jams are a great way to meet new musicians and make friends. A lot of my current musical activities and connections stem from people I met at jams. Because I’m quite busy gigging and keeping up a full-time teaching career, I rarely attend jams unless I am hired to host. Though I do enjoy it when I get the chance.
30. What makes a good jam session? Likes or dislikes?
If people listen to each other, play to the song instead of their ego, and don’t show off or try to upstage others, it’s a good jam. Unfortunately, many times people don’t adhere to these simple principles. There are regular jams I avoid/ have avoided in the past, simply because I can’t stand the attitudes to be found there.
31. What advice would you give to an aspiring player?
Don’t be a musical snob. Listen to all styles and types of artists and learn what you can from each of them. Don’t obsess over gear/ not owning the “right” guitar or amp, etc. Don’t let your ego get the better of you. Be gracious and personable: if people don’t like you they won’t want to work with you. At the same time, you are not obligated to take crap from anyone. Stand up for yourself if the going gets rough.
32. Do you teach or have ever taught music?
I’m a college and university professor by profession. I’ve taught several courses in popular music and popular culture. So, yes, teaching is a pretty big part of my life as well as performing.
33. How do you balance your music with other obligations: mate, children, job?
I’m lucky to have a wife who plays piano and is very into music herself (classical mostly). We have a piano and violins at home and my two children are learning. My daughter (age 6) has performed in several community concerts and passed her Grade 2 conservatory exam in piano. So, you could say I am blessed to be a member of a musical household where we all support and encourage each other.