Chris Kirby, a 26-year-old son of Norris Arm, NL, moved to the city of St. John's in 2001 where he began playing in a string of bands on the local club scene. With the release of Chris Kirby On Rum & Religion in 2006, Chris finally emerged as a solo artist and a captivating songwriter and performer. Since then, Chris has earned MUSICNL and ECMA nominations in blues categories. He has also appeared on showcase and songwriters circle stages at major national and international events, where he has performed alongside greats such as Ron Hynes, Maureen Ennis, Steve Marriner, Treasa Levasseur, Kyle Riabko and Harry Manx.
Just four weeks after its chart debut, the title track from Rum & Religion hit number 1 on the nationally-syndicated East Coast Countdown. This and other tracks from the album have since been featured on radio shows across the country including Ontario university stations and CBC radio’s Vinyl Cafe. Terry Parson's "Blind Lemon Blues" listed Chris Kirby On Rum & Religion as number 7 in the top 20 Canadian blues recordings of 2006.
Vampire Hotel is Kirby's highly-anticipated sophomore recording, produced by Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar, Gov't Mule, Taj Mahal). Production of the record was split between Fat Tracks Studios in St. John's, NL, and Willie Nelson's Pedernales Studios in Austin TX. Heavily influenced by New Orleans Rhythm & Blues and Motown Soul, but rooted in the rich Newfoundland tradition of storytelling, Vampire Hotel offers a unique and refreshing brand of music from a truly original artist.
How do you describe your music to people?
I like to say that it sounds like Rhythm and Blues got back together!
There are elements of New Orleans R&B and Motown, married with a Newfoundland-grown style of storytelling. We call it East Coast R&B.
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
My mom was my first piano teacher. I was 5. We had a little conversation that went like this:
Mom: Would you like to learn to play the piano?
Mom: You start next week
I also get my stubbornness from her.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
That's easy. Making music. I love performing, writing, recording. I wish I never got hungry or tired so that eating and sleeping wouldn't get in the way of making music.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
That's a tough one. I would say my biggest challenge is staying on top of people's minds. There are so many great artists producing music in the world that it has never been easier to get lost in the shuffle. You really have to think outside the box to get yourself stuck in people's heads.
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I thought I would be an electrical engineer. And now I am one. Full time musician AND full time engineer.
In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
I think it's harder for me and other artists here to "break out". We live on the eastern tip of Canada, on an island. It is very expensive to get to other major centers to market one's self. This geographical handicap that we face has sort of forced our artists to be particularly driven and tenacious. The result is hugely passionate music and art from an unlikely population. We also have a very supportive music community here. Folks here are always willing to help each other, and I have learned a lot about making a career in music from my peers.
What other artists out there do you love?
I have been listening to Sara Bareilles a lot lately. And John Legend. I love artists with unique voices.
I am also a big fan of some of the guests I was lucky to have on my new record. Steve Marriner from Ottawa is a killer harp player, guitarist, and singer, and he's Canada's next blues giant. The Idlers are a 10-piece reggae band from St. John's, and I believe they are my absolute favourite band right now. I am very lucky to have worked with these folks that I respect so much, and I'm thrilled that I get to call them my friends.
What does your future hold?
I really hope my future includes getting to make more music, and I hope that my music generates opportunities for me to travel and see more of this big old world.
Check Chris Kirby out on MySpace, FaceBook, and www.chriskirbyonline.com
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