Nigel Mack back in the ‘Wack next week

Just don't ask blues artist Nigel Mark which is his main instrument, his axe or his harp. He says he can't choose.

Nigel Mack is bringing his solo blues performance to Bozzini’s upstairs lounge Aug. 8 in Chilliwack.

Nigel Mack is bringing his solo blues performance to Bozzini’s upstairs lounge Aug. 8 in Chilliwack.

Blues artist Nigel Mack lays down the grooves at Bozzini’s on Aug. 8 with a special solo show.

It was his buddy, Harpdog Brown, who first told him about the tiny live-music venue in a restaurant, none other than Chilliwack’s own Bozzini’s.

“I like intimate venues a lot,” Mack says.

He’s glad to be coming back to the ‘Wack next Friday in the upstairs lounge, a space he enjoyed playing the first time around.

Folks tend to be more attentive in the smaller rooms than they can be at outdoor festivals, for example. He likes to make that audience connection.

In fact, he plays about 100 solo acoustic shows a year in Chicago, on vocals, guitar and harmonica. Most of the time he has the full band with him, when they perform as Nigel Mack and the Blues Attack.

Originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, he was based in Vancouver for years, gigging and recording before moving to the home of the blues, Chicago, Illinois in 2003.

These dog days of summer have him on a busy Western Canada summer tour, which will take him through parts of B.C. and Alberta. He’s been doing the live music thing for a long time, he says, and he’s logged “half a million” miles on the road, playing the top blues clubs and festivals.

“I took guitar when I was a kid,” he says. “I started playing with friends, and one thing led to another, and here I still am.”

His dad was instrumental in his music career, taking him to concerts and buying him records.

“That just opened windows for me.”

So who does he listen to when he has a chance to pop in a disc?

“Carlos Del Junco. His music is always in my CD player on constant rotation. I’ve learned so much from him. He doesn’t have any borders.”

He tries not to have any either. Mack considers himself a blues artist who is more than willing to attempt creative mashups of the idiom.

“Yes I’m a blues artist, but I don’t just play traditional blues. I’ll play everything from the Delta blues to uptown funk,” he says.

His stuff fuses contemporary original blues with classics from the masters. He’ll go from some blistering slide guitar to some killer harmonica.

As a kid he saw James Cotton perform everything from the Delta blues “to some of the funkiest stuff you ever heard,” and that coloured his view to some degree.

“It was authentic because it was done with authority.”

Just don’t ask him which is his main instrument, his axe or his harp. He can’t choose one over the other.

“Like one of my mentors Dave McLean, who played whatever he felt like, and like Taj Mahal, I choose to play both.”

He’s been touring heavily last few weeks, promoting his latest album Devil’s Secrets. It was the number one blues CD album in 2012 on Galaxie Satellite blues radio.

It’s one of three albums he’s made, and he’s proud of them.

“It’s better than having a whole bunch I’m not proud of.”

The other two are Road Rage, and High Price to Pay.

“I just go out there on stage, have fun and let the music talk for me.”