It’s been two decades since Canadian blues vocalist and harmonica player Jordan Patterson released his 1996 debut album, Give Me a Chance. At the time, Patterson was well on his way to establishing himself as a force to be reckoned within the international blues scene, having amassed a fan base through relentless touring and sharing stages with some of the genre’s most prominent legends. Now, following an extended hiatus, Patterson is picking up where he left off and releasing his long-anticipated sophomore album, The Back on Track Recording Project.
Patterson’s blues journey began as a child growing up in Kitchener-Waterloo, ON. The youngest child of nine, one of his sisters gifted him a harmonica and he immersed himself in the instrument, studying the works of blues harp heroes like James Cotton, Paul Butterfield and Mark Wenner of the Nighthawks. Inspired by both classic early blues and contemporary styles, the still-underage Patterson became a familiar face in blues clubs throughout Ontario and the northern United States. With the help of some friends, he managed to sneak into bars and get up close and personal with Buddy Guy, Frank Frost, Luther Tucker, Marcia Ball, Albert Collins, Koko Taylor, Junior Wells and many more.
Patterson moved to Alberta at 20 and became a key player in Edmonton with his band JP and the Heaters. His musical journey then took him to Washington, D.C., where he quickly became part of the who’s who of the local blues scene. He shared a house with Nighthawks guitarist Pete Kanaras and blues harp icon Doug Jay. Various musicians came through the house, one of whom was the celebrated Carey Bell who Jordan knew from childhood and they spent hours together, listening to stories and playing harmonica. Around this time, Patterson met his legendary mentor, influential blues guitar veteran Bobby Parker, who took Patterson under his wing, taking him to all of D.C.’s blues hotspots, both legal and not, and introducing him to everyone. It would prove to be a turning point in Patterson’s career, Parker and Bobby Rush, another childhood hero, then invited Jordan and his band to record at Taylor Made Studios, down in Jackson, Mississippi.
By the mid-‘90s, Patterson was touring throughout North America and Europe, and he and his band the D.C. Hurricane issued Give Me a Chance to rave reviews. All Music Guide, Living Blues Magazine and Juke Joint Magazine, and Blueprint Magazine called Patterson “a major star in the making.” The album got extensive radio play and the band became a fixture at clubs and festivals throughout the world. They shared stages with James Brown, Carlos Santana, Barbra Morrison, Son Seals, Robert Cray, Mick Fleetwood, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. While in the UK, the group recorded sessions for the prestigious BBC Musical Archives. UK Company JSP Records, booked the band for a joint tour with blues journeyman U.P. Wilson, who was so impressed that he recruited the group to play on his 1997 album Whirlwind. At each new gig, Patterson found himself being regarded as a peer by his most esteemed musical idols.
Then, with his career still on the rise, Patterson suddenly decided to pack it all in. Staring out of a hotel window in Ireland, he opted to give up life on the road and pursue a more domestic existence as a concert promoter back home in Ontario. He started out lifting equipment before rising through the industry, working for various companies including House of Blues Concerts Canada and doing artist tour management for Britney Spears and others. These years of working with acts like Jack White, Lauryn Hill, Coldplay, The Black Crows, Jet, Diana Krall, D’Angelo and countless others gave Patterson the music biz savvy to match his years of being onstage.
After a decade and a half behind the scenes, Patterson was inspired by a friend who told him, “Y’know Jordan, one of these days you’re going to have to prove that your first album wasn’t just a fluke.” He resumed playing live in 2014 and released the EP version of The Back on Track Recording Project that same year. The singer-harpist then turned EP into a ten-song full-length version of The Back on Track Recording Project, released on February 19, 2016, with distribution through Fontana North.
The scorching LP features some truly world-class musicians handpicked for their individual excellence, which includes drummer Benjamin Rollo, bass player Mark McIntyre, Los Angeles based R&B/Soul Singer Skyler Jordan, and guitarists Shawn Kellerman, Darryl Romphf and Washington DC based Bobby Thompson. Produced by Romphf, it finds Patterson sounding every bit as fiery and impassioned as he did two decades ago. The band crank the fuzz on the rocking opener “Favourite Boy,” while the frontman shows off his finest harp wailing on the swaggering boogie of “She’s Cool.” Elsewhere, the melancholic “If You’d Help Me Please” is an incendiary slow-burner full of searing solos and looming riffs, while “Can We Fall in Love Again” is a sweetly romantic serenade that highlights the precision of Patterson’s soulful vocals. The stylistically eclectic album bears strong traces of funk and R&B while also harking back to Patterson’s early days as a hard rock aficionado, displaying the full breadth of the songwriter’s extensive musical experience.
The Back on Track Recording Project is more than just a riveting blues-rock masterclass: it’s a thrilling comeback from an artist whose career had seemed to end far too soon. Patterson is supporting the album with extensive touring; masterful guitarists Romphf and Thompson will be joining the singer on the road, along with the rhythm section of bassist Leonardo Valvassori (John Lee Hooker,Alannah Myles, Mel Brown, Ronnie Hawkins) and seasoned drummer Randall Coryell (Bo Diddly, Cowboy Junkies, Tom Cochrane and Red Rider, Paul Butterfield). Now that Patterson has returned in full form, fans can look forward to him doing everything he can to make up for lost time.
“…Honestly, if you listen to this and don’t want to go to one this guy’s concerts, there is something seriously wrong with you. While this is pretty rote rock and roll, in a sense, it smolders and begs you to even try to put out the fire…”
Pop Matters, U.S.A.
“…It’s electrified, funkified, and modernized, yet still true-blue blues…”
Critic’s Choice: Music – Baltimore Weekly U.S.A
“…Patterson has a gutsy, impassioned attitude and when he matches his confidence with the right tune, the results are powerful…”
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide, U.S.A.
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