Bluesman brings soul of the South to Silverton

Son of a civil rights lawyer and a fiddle player, Doc MacLean was exposed to country blues and folklore at an early age.

Son of a civil rights lawyer and a fiddle player, Doc MacLean was exposed to country blues and folklore at an early age. Hailing from the Deep South, MacLean has played washboard, harmonica and guitar with many of the great original delta bluesmen. He has been band leader and recording artist for 40 years, and his recent annual blues tours have been playing across Canada for eight years.

First known for his work as an accompanist on harmonica and washboard, Doc proceeded to make his own mark as a guitarist, singer, arranger and band leader.

For 15 years he toured a nine-piece Memphis-New Orleans jump band, Dr Limbo and His Fabulous Off-Whites, and released a number of singles – some of which achieved heavy regional and college airplay. Doc MacLean has continued to play significant North American folk and blues festivals.

Performing on bottleneck and standard guitar, Doc MacLean now appears solo, as well as with upright bass and percussion. While his lyrics are mainly contemporary, his approach as a guitarist-songster reflects not only his exposure to southern string bands and jug bands, but also to Delta players and storytellers such as Charlie Patton, Son House, and Sam Chatmon.

Now, marking 30 years on the blues highway, his work as a songwriter reflects his family roots in the labour movement, his time spent living and performing in the rural southern United States, and his personal connections to the oral and musical history of the Delta. He views his own compositions as part of an unbroken tradition. Now as, America rediscovers its roots, new audiences are discovering Doc MacLean.

See the man and hear the music at the Silverton Gallery on Nov. 7 at 8 p.m.