Guest Author - Sue Sutherland-Wood
I’ve been writing a bit about “hybrid-fusion” efforts lately – combining core elements of The Blues with other genres – and just lately, I came across (thanks to Jinny yet again!) a group called Digging Roots based here in Canada. Listening to this music for the first time was extremely exciting to me since the sound is so staggeringly original – and yet familiar at the same time - with a blues base that flows seamlessly between slide guitar to fuzzy jazz to the sudden inclusion of a few titrated drams of hip-hop. The end result is ethereal, intellectual and sexy leaving the listener wanting more or possibly, wanting to seek out the film footage that surely goes with this score ...
Raven Kanatakta is the band’s dishy frontman guitarist and his wife ShoShona Kish’s vocals are the perfect match for the melodies. As a songwriting team, their chemistry is obvious and Kish displays an impressive array of emotional range from yearning and raw to come-hither seduction. Did I mention too that she is absolutely stunning – sort of an Indie, thinking-woman’s Joan Jett. So it’s only fitting that Digging Roots recently picked up a Juno award, making their record We Are Aboriginal Album of the Year. (Raven Kanatakta was raised on a reservation in Quebec called Winneway while his wife is from Batchawana, in northern Ontario, Canada).
The key word here of course is “fusion” – this is not your parents’ traditional blues album. If you are the kind of person who only draws from a very narrow blues category then this record may not be your cup of tea because it is truly different and in fact, very slippery to categorize. Which is partly why I myself enjoyed it so much and I hope you do too!
Although Kanatakta still favours tube electrified acoustic guitars, his real authenticity and skill lies in knowing when to keep things sparse and when to ramp things up – and that intuition is part of the strength of this album. It’s a great mix that showcases the range of what this band is capable of.
Start by listening to Spring to Come – and take it from there.
The core band members include:
ShoShona Kish (vocals)
Raven Kanatakta (guitar, vocals)
James Forrest (bass)
Rakesh Tewari (percussion)
* Editor’s note: In the interest of full disclosure, this is a cd from my personal collection which I have reviewed of my own volition.