The music of WinterJam

Marcus Roberts, Tom Paxton, Powder Blues Band among acts

Michelle Wright

Mark Allan

Special to the Record

A folk legend. Two members of Fleetwood Mac. A Canadian country icon. Great guitarists. “The genius of modern piano.”

Doug Cox has booked all this and more for the second annual WinterJam next month.

With more time to arrange talent than last year’s event, Cox tapped into a list of contacts from MusicFest that is longer than Santa’s delivery list.

As the MusicFest artistic director does for that annual July festival, Cox offers many genres with WinterJam.

“I think it’s really important,” Cox states in an interview. “The hard thing about WinterJam is that we have to sell single-night tickets for every event.

“If you’re going to count on somebody coming out to three or four events, which is certainly what happened last year … you’re going to have to give people some variety.”

For example, Cox booked a brilliant jazz pianist for Jan. 31.

“One of the things we’re doing with WinterJam to stretch things out a little bit is bringing in Marcus Roberts. Wynton Marsalis calls him the greatest living jazz pianist.

“I want to see if there’s an audience for it (jazz) and I hope that people will trust the reputation we have we MusicFest, with WinterJam as well.”

As Cox notes, the musicians he books for WinterJam are hardly obscure.

Folk legend Tom Paxton launches next month’s musical menu on a bill Jan. 14 with beloved Canadian singer Valdy.

“We’re making that one an all-ages show because I’m hoping parents will bring their kids to that one so that they can grow up and say they saw Tom Paxton.”

Paxton’s 40-year career was recognized in 2009 with a Lifetime Achievement Award presented during the 51st annual Grammy Awards.

Booking guitarists Rick Vito and Billy Burnette, who replaced Lindsey Buckingham in Fleetwood Mac, was easier than you might think.

“I’ve actually been working on bringing them to the Comox Valley for quite some time,” Cox reveals in an interview. “They were both available and wanting to come out, so it was a pretty easy one.”

They headline Guitars Galore on Jan. 17.

Country fans won’t want to miss Michelle Wright on Jan. 24. She has sold nearly two million albums in the United States and Canada in the past 24 years, and she was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011.

Tom Lavin and Powder Blues will get the Filberg Centre jumping Jan. 23. In 36 years, Vancouver’s legendary good-time blues band has earned a Juno Award and the Blues Foundation Award in Memphis as well as headlining the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

Neil Osborne, another longtime B.C. musical force, performs Jan. 22 in an intimate setting at Crown Isle. He was the lead singer and main songwriter for underrated band 54-40.

To increase diversity, Cox booked four-time Native American Music Award winner Martha Redbone, who was a headliner at MusicFest a couple of years ago. She and the Sojourners gospel trio perform Jan. 18.

Three of the world’s leading acoustic guitar virtuosos (Martin Taylor, Laurence Juber and Peppino D’Agostino) will amaze a local audience Jan. 29 in a WinterJam exclusive.

Although Cox is still working to book another show or two, the current WinterJam lineup is completed by Corey Harris performing acoustic blues Jan. 21.

All shows are at the Native Sons Hall, Sid Williams Theatre, Filberg Centre or Crown Isle at 8 p.m.

For details about performers and ticket availability, visit winterjam.ca or phone 855-400-2882.

Mark Allan is a freelance writer and a former editor of the Comox Valley Record.