The Musician Spotlight Series shines a light on up-and-coming bands and solo acts creating heartfelt and original work across genres, giving them an opportunity to talk about their music, their collaborators, and why they do what they do.
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“A singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Ol Billy Bob Boy’s music blends the sounds of traditional country and bluegrass with signature tongue-in-cheek humour and stories inspired by life in Newfoundland and beyond. Featuring a stellar cast of musicians, Ol Billy Bob Boy’s debut album, Sweltering Sun, is scheduled for release in May 2020 and will be sure to make listeners hoot, holler, belly laugh and maybe even shed a tear.”
When did you know you wanted to be a musician?
I don’t really remember a time when I didn’t want to be a musician. I didn’t start playing music until I was 14, but I would often imagine myself being in bands and would sing little tunes or change the words to popular songs. My grandfather had a lot of instruments, and though I don’t remember him playing, it was helpful to have access to them when I started learning.
Are you trained? How did you develop your skills?
I took private guitar and bass lessons in high school and was preparing to study classical guitar in university. But then, I saw a presentation about the Music Industry and Performance program at College of the North Atlantic, and decided that program was better suited to the career I wanted to have. Although it wasn’t geared towards learning how to play music (the theory and technique, etc.) it gave me a lot of practical music industry experience in a short time, including experience with performing, live sound engineering, recording, songwriting and business strategy. After the program, I wanted to boost my theory knowledge and technique so I went to St. Francis Xavier University and studied jazz upright bass.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Ironically, when I was growing up, I would tell people that I liked everything except for country music. As I got older and began playing more music, my musical horizons broadened and I became more open to different styles of music. When I was in high school I would play guitar at house parties and my friends kept bugging me to learn Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” so I eventually did.
Around this time, my brother got a pickup truck and started listening to pop country and I joined a bar band where we would play classic rock, dance, and country music. One day, I was hanging out and watching CMT with my brother and some bandmates and Corb Lund’s “The Truck Got Stuck” music video came on. I remember thinking that the song was clever and a unique twist on what everyone else was doing. Then a few months later, I saw the video for Corb Lund’s track “Family Reunion” and I was absolutely hooked. It was funny, filled with great playing on acoustic instruments and I loved everything about it. I went out immediately and got his latest CD and listened to it over and over. I then started listening to more Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and contemporary roots artists like The United Steel Workers of Montreal, Little Miss Higgins, and Old Man Luedecke. These artists are still some of my biggest influences to date.
How did the band come together?
My current backing band is made up of some university friends I’ve performed frequently with, a buddy from my circle of folk friends, and a fiddler that was highly recommended by some bandmates of mine.
How would you describe your sound?
I am drawing from the traditions of country and bluegrass music by using upright bass, acoustic guitar, fiddle, vocal harmonies and drums. It harkens back to early country but with my personal unique brand of tongue-in-cheek lyrics and humour.
What’s your favourite tune in your repertoire and why?
“Carrie Ann,” the first single from my upcoming album, is an upbeat track that is very fun to perform. It also tells a heartwarming, comical story story that transports the listener back to a summer’s day.
What can audiences expect from one of your live shows?
Audiences can expect to have a great time at live shows and get some laughs out of my music. There is a lot of humour in my songs and I love to surprise listeners and see if they pick up on subtle jokes in my lyrics. On the other hand, there are a couple of songs that are very serious and vulnerable that will speak to people on a deeper level.
Where can we find your music?
My debut single, “Carrie Ann” is available now on Spotify, Apple Music and other places you can stream and purchase music. My full album, Sweltering Sun will be released in May 2020 and will also be available on all platforms, including Bandcamp.
Follow me on Facebook or Instagram to learn more or head over to olbillybobboy.com to stay up to date on single releases, upcoming performances and more.