Entertainment

Paul DesLauriers band at Donnelly’s Pub for two-night gig

Red-hot blues band returning to Thorold

By Bob Liddycoat, special to Postmedia News

The Paul DesLauriers Band performs at Donnelly’s Pub in Thorold Wednesday and Thursday. (Supplied photo)

The Paul DesLauriers Band performs at Donnelly’s Pub in Thorold Wednesday and Thursday. (Supplied photo)

The Quebec-based Paul DesLauriers Band has been the hottest blues band in Canada over the past two years and shows no signs of cooling off anytime soon.

The multi-award winning trio was recently nominated for five Maple Blues awards, adding to the trophies and honours it has racked up in recent years.

The band is heading to Donnelly’s Pub, in Thorold for a two-night stand Wednesday and Thursday.

They should be playing to sold-out auditoriums, but these shows, in the intimate 85-seat venue, are special because of a partnership between Donnelly’s owner Joe Viele, the Canal Bank Shuffle Blues Festival committee and the band.

In an interview, DesLauriers explained the rare appearance.

“We are stoked to be coming back to Thorold. We played the Shuffle twice after winning a spot at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis (IBCs). We then made a return trip, and now two back-to-back shows.

“Return dates are great because we realize that people really like what we do. That’s the very highest form of compliment from people.”

Viele sees the other side of these relationships. With international acts looking to play his venue, he said, “I feel proud. I feel indebted to the Shuffle and to Brant Parker (leader of his house band) because both of them have been a great help to me in getting Donnelly’s out there like I have been able to do.”

DesLauriers has been around for a long time, but this recent wave of fame began largely in 2016.

“We released our first album and then we finished second at IBCs competing against 119 international acts. That was a big kicker for us, it helped launch our career internationally,” he said.

Accolades have poured in from France, the Netherlands, the U.K. and the U.S., and, of course, Canada.

Last year the band won four Maple Blues awards. Its five nominations this year include for entertainer of the year and electric act of the year, and individual nominations for guitarist of the year for DesLauriers, bassist of the year for Greg Morency and drummer of the year for Sam Harrisson.

Asked about playing the small venue, DesLauriers said he’s much more concerned about building relationships than fuelling ego.

“This is a tough business and you live through highs and lows. It’s difficult enough making a living, building a career and sustaining it for a number of years. I’m in my 40s now and I’ve been doing this my whole life. We know enough to take care of what’s keeping you alive and it’s the people you work for and work with. We like working with people who are fun. It’s a big part of our philosophy — to build relationships with other people. We’re making friends wherever we go.”

But DesLauriers also has a right to boast, at least a little. In addition to the awards mentioned, DesLauriers is the winner of two Maple Blues Awards in 2014, including for guitarist of the year, and winner of five Lys Blues Awards in Quebec. Morency is a two-time winner of the Maple Blues Award for bassist of the year. Harrisson is the Maple Blues Award drummer of the year for 2017 and is the winner of a record-holding nine Lys Blues Awards in Quebec for musical performance.

This is truly a powerhouse trio.

Viele also weathered some tough times and like the trio learned about relationships.

“My first year of booking acts was hard. There were a lot of disappointments,” he said, “but then I hooked up with the right people (The Shuffle and Parker) who know who the good people in the industry are.”

He, too, is all about building relationships.

“The bands have been phenomenal people. I can’t think of anybody (musicians) who I wouldn’t like to have for a friend,” he said.

Joining DesLauriers will be local stars Parker and 2017 Niagara Music Award winner Spencer MacKenzie.

Tickets can be purchased at Donnelly’s Pub, 54 Front St. S., Thorold. More information can be found at www.canalbankshuffle.com or call 905-227-1947.