Bluesman Makes The World His Neighborhood
By Shelley Arnusch
Yemassee, South Carolina is a long way from Vancouver, British Columbia.
So far, it took Vancouver bluesman Wes Mackey 40 years to get back there.
After a career that’s taken him all over the world Mackey went home for the first time in 40 years this past February after he accepted an invitation to play a blues festival in Charleston.
After the festival he rented a car and drove to Yemassee – the town where he was born. He went back to the old neighborhood, back to the docks at the fishing club where his father was caretaker and where he used to hang out.
"I went back there and went through the fence and went back down by the fishing docks and things were about the same way I left it," says the husky voiced Mackey. "It was very emotional for me. It was like my life was complete, like I went full circle from where I started from 40 years ago."
He was so moved by the experience he’s going back for two more performances in September and October. The shows will fall right around the time he hopes to release his third independent album, a work he’s titled In My Neighborhood. While the album has certainly been inspired by his reconnection to his roots in South Carolina, Mackey says the overall theme is broader in scope.
"I'm talking about a global neighborhood, you know? A song that anybody could relate to all around the world," he says. "I'll be recapturing some of the old legends of blues, but doing’ it my way." His way indeed. Mackey plays blues guitar, pedal bass and sings. Fans of his live shows have seen him do it all at the same time.
Despite his recent homecoming and the fact that the American south is the birthplace of the music he plays, Mackey says he has no plans to move back. "I felt peaceful, but I never thought of relocating back," he reflects. "The best part is just to know that I could go home."
Whistler will be Wes Mackey’s second home in the coming weeks. The bluesman plays the Mallard Lounge this Wednesday and Thursday evening. He'll be back Aug. 27-29 as a part of Tourism Whistler’s Jazz, Blues and Swing weekend and will play two shows, Friday, Aug. 27 and Saturday Aug. 28 at the Crystal Lounge.