Blue Moon Marquee is already well-known across Canada and many parts beyond for its music, but now the recognition factor of the dynamic duo has gone off the charts.
Jasmine Colette and A.W. (Al) Cardinal are already adopted favourites of the Cowichan Valley after moving to the area eight years ago. Their acclaim and the appreciation of their music is soaring, particularly after a memorable Maple Blues Awards night in Toronto on Jan. 30.
They were not only nominated for four awards, but won all four: Entertainer of the Year; Acoustic Act of the Year; Recording/Producer of the Year and Songwriter of the Year.
It doesn’t get any better than that for two entertainers from Alberta who’ve worked extremely hard at mastering their craft.
“We were told by the organizers in the 26 years it’s been around nobody’s ever taken them all,” said Colette (her middle name).
“It felt really, really nice to be nominated and it was surprising that we did take them all. All these categories were nominated by the fans.”
“To be nominated and/or to win a Maple Blues Award is very special,” added Cardinal. “Receiving the tip of the hat from folks who are listening and paying attention to our music and the Canadian blues scene is pure motivation to keep playing, writing, performing and studying in the genres that we love, which all revolves around the blues.
“The best part of winning the awards that we were nominated for is that they are a result of fan voting. These affirmations are fuel for the flame. And we thank everyone who took the time to vote and to everyone who supported us throughout the years by coming to our shows and buying the albums. And to all the radio DJs for spinning our records. And to our team that stands behind us.”
Blue Moon Marquee has paid its dues, hitting the road to perform and developing an audience.
“This business really is about endurance and stamina,” said Colette. “Canada is particularly a tough country. We drive 8-10 hours and we play for 40 people.”
The awards felt like a true testament to them for all their efforts.
What stands out to Colette is “the fact little old us were able to beat those big names all these years playing hundreds of shows for a few people. Little by little we chipped away at it.”
Blue Moon Marquee is also nominated for a Blues Music Award in the United States for Emerging Act of the Year and will be heading to Memphis, Tennessee for the awards ceremony in May.
The duo’s new album ‘Scream, Holler & Howl’ is hitting a high note with fans and music critics everywhere.
Blue Moon Marquee was also short-listed for a Grammy nomination this year and a Juno nomination seemed to be in the cards, but didn’t happen. All indications are it’s only a matter of time.
Wrapped around the Maple Blues Awards and adding to the celebrations were both of their birthdays. Colette reached a memorable turning point of 40 on Jan. 27 and Cardinal 36 on Feb. 1.
The path Colette and Cardinal have taken to get to this point is quite interesting.
“We knew each other back in Alberta when we were teenagers,” Colette pointed out. “We played in punk and R&B bands. We didn’t know each other that well. We knew of each other in the scene.”
In 2012, Cardinal was living in New York City and came out to Vancouver to record a solo album, Colette explained. A mutual friend was engineering the project and Colette was there at the time, assisting on his album.
“That’s when we realized we had a lot of similar inspirations and interests and that’s when Blue Moon Marquee started to form,” she said.
“It was kind of glaringly obvious there was a spark there. We realized we were on a similar wavelength.”
Blue Moon Marquee officially launched in 2014, bringing together the musical expertise and interests of the two into one package.
“We’d both been into the blues from a really, really young age separately,” said Colette. “We realized that about each other. We had these deep loves embedded in us. We started working really hard right off the hop.”
Living out of the truck to make ends meet just made them all the more determined.
“We were playing for very little money and very few people for a long, long time,” Colette indicated.
After some gruelling trips, the pair discovered the Cowichan Valley as the ideal place to settle between gigs.
“One particular tour ended out here,” recalled Colette. “We thought maybe we’ll just stay here.
“Right before COVID, we were hitting a big stride.”
Unfortunately, COVID slowed their ascent or else 2020 might have been their big breakthrough year. But here we are now in 2022-23 and it’s better late than never, even though the overall music scene is still scrambling to recover.
“A lot of festivals are no longer,” Colette noted. “A lot of music clubs are unfortunately not happening. It’s still very far from where it was. It’s still a very tricky business to navigate. It feels like there’s momentum again and it’s feeling good, but it’s very tricky.”
It’s always difficult placing various musical acts into different genres and Blue Moon Marquee actually prides itself on not being typical of any particular categorization.
“We come from more of an old school original blues,” pointed out Colette. “It’s really refreshing for a lot of people. We hear that a lot from people. We’re unique and we have our own voice.”
Colette, the rhythm section, commands the upright bass and also brings the swing with her feet on the kick drum, snare and high hat, all while singing harmonies. Cardinal lends his distinctive thick and smoky vocals to his guitar that crackles with the swinging energy of jazz-tinged blues.
Blue Moon Marquee has appeared at the Osborne Bay Pub in Crofton several times and will be playing a sold-out show there on Saturday, Feb. 18 as a send-off before embarking on an extensive tour. Colette said they’ll be in Australia for seven weeks and then spending some time in New Orleans and Memphis before heading to Europe.
The sky really is the limit now for Blue Moon Marquee with a busy schedule ahead.
Further appearances close to home will be few and far between, but they’ll be at the Victoria Event Centre May 25, the Chemainus Blues Festival July 8, the Nanaimo Summertime Blues Festival Aug. 10 and in Errington Nov. 18.