22 October 2017
Barbara Diab

Exclusive interview with Doudou Boicel

Doudou Boicel
I had the great pleasure of meeting artist, writer and impresario, Doudou Boicel. 

Originally from Guyana and a Montrealer for many years, Doudou Boicel needs no introduction. He has been on the jazz and blues scene for many decades now. He opened and ran the legendary Rising Sun and started the first Jazz & Blues Festival in Montreal in 1978. Doudou developed close friendships with many blues artists who performed at his club and it is for this reason that Mr. Boicel has decided to pay tribute to three friends and legendary bluesmen, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. “Montreal’s Blues Guitar All-Stars” is to be held on October 26 at the Lion D’Or in Montreal.

I sat down with Doudou Boicel in his studio and we spoke about this upcoming tribute show.

BD: Mr. Boicel you have been photographed with three blues greats, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. How did you know these musicians?
D. Boicel: I want to honour these great legends who were also my personal friends. I had the privilege of meeting them when they played at my club, the Rising Sun in the 70’s.

BD: I’m sure you have many interesting stories to tell.
D. Boicel: I could go on for hours! They would often tease each other and found great pleasure in talking about who was the best musician and who was the best-looking. Muddy Waters was a big joker who loved champagne at all times. Willie Dixon was a teetotaller and John Lee Hooker had given up drinking. They settled scores and boasted about who taught the blues to whom.

BD: Are you nostalgic when thinking about your dearly departed friends?
D. Boicel: I am still living with them. When I think about them, I think of how well we got along; there was unity among us and I am proud of the brotherhood that developed between myself and these African-Americans. They were always willing to perform in Montreal and said they felt right at home here. It is for this reason that I decided to pay tribute to them by organizing a blues show with some of Montreal’s finest blues guitarists.

BD: What does the blues mean to you?
D. Boicel: The blues is my life. Life after the war in Guyana was very difficult. The blues brought me hope and joy. The blues has the power to express feelings and each person will find his own story in the blues. If I could send a message to blues musicians and fans it would be, “Keep the blues alive.”

BD: The concert is a wonderful tribute and a great initiative. Who will be performing on the evening of October 26?
D. Boicel: There will be all kinds of blues from the Delta to Chicago...in the rhythm section we have Carl Rufh on bass and John McColgan on drums. They will accompany guitarists, Deacon George, Pat Loiselle, Roger Mann, Steve Rowe, John McGale, Rick D’Opera and Cécile Doo-Kingue. I would like to invite everyone in Montreal to come out to the Lion D’Or on October 26 to celebrate the blues.

BD: It’s a date! Thank you, Doudou Boicel for sharing your passion for the blues.
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