By Perry Lefko
For all he’s done as one of the two frontmen for Blue Rodeo, Jimmy Cuddy still likes to go solo.
The Jim Cuddy Band has produced four albums, the latest of which, Constellation (WarnerMusic), he is out promoting on tour. He comes to Barrie’s Georgian Theatre on March 29.
For some of the tour events he is joined by his two sons Devon and Sam, both of whom have their own bands. Blue Rodeo will be touring in the summer and then Cuddy will be back promoting his band. For some dates on his tour’s schedule, Cuddy has had to do gigs in between with Blue Rodeo.
“Up until this point I’ve always used Blue Rodeo as the first call, so whatever was offered to Blue Rodeo my gigs would take second place,” he said. “If I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t do it. I guess Blue Rodeo takes precedence because it’s a bigger machine. There’s a lot more people involved. My solo career and Blue Rodeo are not equal. Blue Rodeo is a much bigger animal. I guess we’ll plan out the Blue Rodeo schedule and I will fill in the gaps with my own stuff.”
Comparing his role with Blue Rodeo, Cuddy said the difference with his own band is a combination of different instrumentation.
“Truly at this point of my life I’m really about the nuances of everybody’s playing,” he said. “Steve O’Connor, my piano player, is very different player than Michael Boguski of Blue Rodeo. Both of them great but different and Joel Anderson is a very different drummer than Glenn Milchem. I have four records and it’s nice to revisit that material. It’s just a broader pallet. For me, it’s just more music and a different atmosphere.
“There’s a little less pressure with my solo endeavours and playing in smaller places. I don’t feel responsible for the people. I just sort of feel I should do what I want. That’s the opportunity I provide myself with. It just broadens my experience. It’s not competitive. It’s just enjoyment.
“You still have to succeed. You still have to play well and have people come. It’s just that as a band rises up – as Blue Rodeo rose up from bars to theaters to arenas – it’s hard to go back. I did the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto for my record back in December and that was fun. Blue Rodeo couldn’t do that. You can’t fit it into that size anymore. In my band it’s easier to move around and there’s fewer expectations.
“Yes, I feel really fortunate. I can’t believe I’ve had a solo band for 20 years. It’s enough getting your head around being in a successful band for more than 30 years, and then having another solo band that lasts 20 years.”
He said his interest in material for his own band has always been in the details of songs and the narrative and the melody.
“I have naturally a different instrumentation in my band and yet on record that is a little muted,” he said. “It’s a lot more evident live because Anne Lindsay, my violinist, plays a much bigger role. I don’t think I operate particularly differently, it’s just with a different set of tools.”