By Mallory Clarkson
Award winning Canadian singer-songwriter Ben Sures will be bringing his quirky and eclectic sound to the Border City come Sept. 19, promoting his latest album, Son of Trouble. While this won’t be his first time playing in Lloydminster, this will be his first proper concert as the main man on stage.
Pulling from blues influences including Spanish, African, Chicago and punk sources, Sures performance is sure to entertain Lloydminster’s music lovers.
This focus is something that’s new for Sures, namely because his most recent sound and album has an electric feel.
“ I sort of tapped into some of my less explored roots like old blues and African music. I also always wanted to record a tune by Los Zafiros, who were a Cuban group from the ‘50s and I’ve always loved this African, West African guitar playing, so that would be my take on a song by a West African artist, Boubacar Traoré,” he said.
Despite pulling from a plethora of influences, Sures said he has maintained his unique sound.
“Your sound is in front of you, not behind you — you’re always working towards something,” he explained. “ I’m not trying to imitate anyone, so I’m not trying to play the Cuban song like the Cubans played it, I’m not trying to play the African song like the African artists played it.
“I’m certainly not trying to do it like them, they’re just songs that I want to play and I want to interpret in my own way. I try to honour the tradition of something, but it’s always in the framework of what my hands are willing to do.”
With Son of Trouble, Sures said he took a traditional approach to how it was played, thumbing his rifts, rather than using a pick. He noted he did that to get a certain sound, something that sets a solid foundation for the music to grow from.
The album was also approached in a traditional manner in that it took only three days to record. While that isn’t something that was planned, Sures said it just worked out that way.
“I thought that we would do the bed tracks in three days, which is usually either the bass and drums and then you add the guitar and the vocals and whatever else,” he explained. “That’s what I thought we were doing, but we kept doing these takes and I said, ‘I think that’s it, I don’t think you have to redo it.’”
By recording the album this way, Sures said that it allowed for a more organic approach, allowing track after track to be laid down naturally.
But that doesn’t mean that will be the set standard for Sures’ future albums, as the music-making process is all part of an evolution.
“Some people have asked if I’m going to continue on this path and I think it just becomes part of the bigger picture and part of the show,” he said. “I’m always kind of stretching.”
Sures began playing guitar at the age of 15, where he promptly learned to play about half of Robert Johnson’s repertoire. After taking guitar lessons from street musicians in Winnipeg, he became a busker, before carving out a recording and touring career that has spanned more than 20 years and includes six albums.
By paying his dues in this manner, Sures said it has kept him more down to earth “because there’s not a lot of glory in being a busker.”
“In my early 20s, I travelled around Canada and played on the street. I would find a spot in a city and stay for a couple of months and move on,” he said. “I guess, it’s like a musician who starts out as a school teacher or doing something like a more conventional job, I think it keeps the world more real for you as opposed to say someone who becomes a rock star at 20 — they don’t really get that benefit of the life experience.
“For me, playing on the street all of those years ago, I met a lot of other great musicians and you sort of have a unique perspective on the world because it just walks by you all day long.”
At Sures’ Sept. 19 performance (tickets are $10) at the Root: Community Emporium, he will be playing most of the tracks off of his newest album, as well as highlights from his other five albums.
This is a mid-stop on his Son of Trouble-promoting tour, which sees the artist travel from Victoria to Regina throughout September.
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