MASTERFUL – The Vancouver Island-based Luke Blu Guthrie Band performs at The Hideout on May 31.

R&B duo bringing eclectic sounds to City

The Luke Blu Guthrie Band at The Hideout on Friday

Exhibiting an insightful, compelling knack for crafting and performing, the Luke Blu Guthrie Band performs at The Hideout on Friday.

The band is a two-time VIMA-nominated, rhythm and blues duo that electrifies the stage with its alternative roots beat. Consisting of Luke Blu Guthrie and Elizabeth Penney, the pair can be counted on for a powerful, soulful performance that “vibrates the stage with poignant melodies that include slide guitar, masterful finger picking, strong vocals and upbeat bass lines.”

Named one of CBC’s independent artists to watch in 2011 and nominated for Male Songwriter of the Year at the VIMA’s in 2012, Guthrie is a growing presence on Canadian radio with live CDs.

“In many ways I was always musical,” explains Guthrie, reflecting on his formative years. “Early introductions to reggae, blues, country and jazz gave me an early appreciation for music that comes from the soul.

“I have sung since I could make noise and told stories before I could accurately form words. A few blues songs were written around seven or eight but I didn’t get fully into playing live shows until I was about 14. By that time, my love of early country blues and gospel had grown to include rock and socially-aware punk.”

There wasn’t a whole lot of passion for music in the family, but that didn’t dampen his enthusiasm in the least.

“Despite my family’s lack of interest in playing music (and maybe almost because of it), I continued on my own path and was playing professionally by age 16,” he explains. “Throughout this time, certain writers/players always steered me towards my sound. Influences like Robert Johnson, Blind Willie Mctell, Bob Dylan, CCR, Burton Cummings, Ron Sexsmith and Daniel Lanois helped me reach towards music that fused different styles from the soul. I call this music Heart Beatin’ rhythm and blues.”

Meanwhile, the most recent disc, Oil and Water, saw the band’s fan base explode in 2012.

Armed with acoustic and electric guitars, assorted foot percussion and plenty of rhythmic ‘slaps and yowls’, Guthrie has also been an integral part of the Vancouver Island music scene for over a decade. He is widely respected for his versatility and skill as a songwriter, vocalist and guitar player.

“As long as the song/music has a message and is coming from an honest place, I have always felt comfortable performing in front of people. One thing I continue to realize is that you have no idea who you are touching through a recording or a video; it may be difficult to get people’s attention these days with a song but when you do, and someone feels the need to effuse this to you, it is the best feeling in the world.”

Elizabeth Penney joined the band in 2011.

An accomplished bassist with explosive rhythms, she incorporates elements of dance, funk, blues and country into the act. She has more than 20 years of performance experience, and is just as comfortable in a small town venue as she is sharing the stage with some of Hong Kong’s top recording artists.

Like Guthrie, she also has deep roots on Vancouver Island and her upbeat, down-to-earth spirit permeates her musical and stylistic contributions.

“The beautiful coast of B.C. is inspiring,” says Guthrie, adding that his songwriting comes from other places in his heart as well. “I also take much inspiration from North American politics and history. My mom’s side is from the south and our name (Guthrie) was inherited through our former owners in the slave trade. My writing incorporates both the good and the bad side of the human condition.”

From festival stages to school workshops, the band’s strong sense of community is evident in its commitment to take part in initiatives involving music lovers of all ages.

There’s no doubt that the band will continue to be an integral part of the western Canadian music scene in years to come.

“I would hope that people can discover a bit of themselves in my songs,” he says. “I always like it when I hear someone sing a line and I go ‘Hey! I’ve thought that before’. I hope these songs can help people to examine issues from different perspectives.

“To me that is what this is about; telling stories and taking in a different point of view. I would like people to come away from the show with a soulful smile on their face and a rhythmic beat to their step, hopefully they pass it along to everyone they meet on the street.”

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