WinterJam ramblings: The artistic director’s insight into the live music

Part 2 of a two-part series

In the second of a two-part series, WinterJam 100 artistic director Doug Cox  – the man behind the music – gives his insight regarding the acts he has booked for WinterJam 2015. Here are his previews of the final five acts.



January’s WinterJam 100 has a diverse mash-up of musical masters for you to witness. Beginning Jan. 14 with the Tom Paxton/Valdy Folk Legends Show, the Comox Valley is about to come alive with music unique to our relatively small community here on the Island.  This is the only place in B.C. this kind of stuff happens on such a scale and our MusicFest team is thrilled to be part of it!

From folk legends to jazz icons, from world beat to gospel, from acoustic and electric guitar extravaganzas to country music divas, from modern blues masters to Canadian rock ‘n’ roll stars, we have it all.

People always ask me which show I am most looking forward to. That’s impossible to answer and I’ll be at all of them. For me personally, that is the biggest reward for all the work we do; getting to see the shows and watch the delightful exchange that happens between our performers and audience.


An Intimate Evening with 54-40’s Neil Osborne – Thursday Jan. 22 at Crown Isle

Neil Osborne has penned and sang such fabulous signature 54-40 songs as I Go Blind, One Gun, Since When and Ocean Pearl which have crossed from the realm of rock to a broader base. Even if you think you don’t know these songs, you do. It’s fair to say, there are few Canadian rock bands that have achieved the immediate level of recognition as Neil Osborne’s 54-40.

With that kind of success in the rock and roll world, you could expect a fair amount of attitude and ego from the band’s front man.

That just isn’t true in Osborne’s case. He’s a man who doesn’t take his success for granted and continues to follow his heart rather than his wallet in his musical pursuits as a writer, singer and producer.

He’s the real deal as a person and a gem in the Canadian music scene.

So what can you expect at a solo Neil Osborne concert? Expect to hear some of the stories behind your favourite 54-40 songs. Expect a rare glimpse inside the life of a Canadian rock star. Expect to be surprised at the depth of Neil’s country (!) and rock ‘n’ roll roots and his commitment to his music. But mostly, expect to be surprised, moved and entertained as you should be at any great concert!

Tom Lavin and the Legendary Powder Blues Band – Friday, Jan. 23 at the Filberg Centre

Expect your ‘Thirsty Ears’ to ‘Hear That Guitar Ring’ as Tom Lavin and the Legendary Powder Blues Band are ‘Doin It Right’ at the WinterJam Boogie Night! Get ready to dance. For the baby boomers among us, get ready to revisit the music from a band you fell in love to, partied to, cruised to and, if you are a fan of guitar, air-guitared to! Powder Blues needs no introduction, it’s that simple.

Our fastest selling show is almost full so if you expect to get into this one don’t wait.



Real Country : Michelle Wright – Saturday, Jan. 24 at the Sid Williams Theatre

Michelle Wright is the first Canadian female country music star to have achieved international recognition but her music goes way beyond that. Since 1988, when her album titled Do Right By Me landed her seven chart singles and sales well over 40,000 in Canada alone, Michelle’s name has become synonymous with Canadian country, new or old.

In 1990 her first American released single, New Kind of Love, hit the Top 30 on the U.S. charts! The Academy of Country Music named Michelle its Top New Female Vocalist in May, 1993. Michelle catapulted to superstardom in Canada the same year, receiving a total of 12 music industry awards, including the Canadian Country Music Association’s Fans’ Choice Entertainer Of The Year award and double platinum honours for Now & Then.

We don’t have room to print her entire bio here, but let’s just say, she hasn’t stopped wowing the country music world with her wonderful music and accomplishments!

When we asked Michelle to make a special trip out West just for WinterJam, she not only agreed to come join us, but also to bring her fabulous trio with her, allowing a show that will cover the gamut of her musical muses throughout the years of her career.



Great Guitars – Laurence Juber, Martin Taylor and Peppino D’Agostino – Thursday, Jan. 29 at the Filberg Centre

Another show that is exclusive to WinterJam; the ‘Great Guitars’ features three international players who just happened to all be headed to a music convention in California when we found out they were all interested in coming and sharing the stage together here. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime gathering of these guitar trendsetters in the Valley!

In a nutshell, Laurence Juber (who you may have seen at MusicFest a few years back) was Paul McCartney’s guitarist (in Wings) for many years but that’s just the tip of the iceberg for his accomplishments. Google him!

U.K. guitarist Martin Taylor is considered by most musical folks to be the world’s finest living fingerstyle jazz guitarist. Google, him, too!

And Italian Peppino D’Agostino is a stunning acoustic guitarist/composer whose music falls somewhere between classical, tango, folk and new age modern acoustic music. What the heck, Google him as well!



Jazz Icon – The Marcus Roberts Trio – Saturday, Jan. 31 – at the Sid Williams Theatre

Marcus Roberts grew up in Jacksonville, Florida where his mother’s gospel singing and the music of the local church left a lasting impact on his musical style. He lost his sight at age five, and a few years later began to teach himself to play piano. He had his first formal lessons at age 12 and ultimately went on to study classical piano at Florida State University with Leonidus Lipovetsky.

Most jazz enthusiasts consider Marcus to be among the very few current generation musicians who are keeping the tradition of Southern jazz alive while at the same time, adding to the deep well of jazz history with his own take on jazz standards and music in general. It’s a rare thing for one of the jazz icons to visit the Comox Valley and we are very proud to be partnering with the Sid Williams Theatre for this historic evening of jazz to close off WinterJam 100!




Tickets and further information on all the shows is available at


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