Spencer turned 18 this week and it’s nice to see time catch up with him because he’s been pulling the weight of a man for quite a few years now. The blues is a trap you see – seemingly simple to play and write – but there you see is the rub. The blues can spot a fraud a mile away, and the form insists there are no substitutes for authenticity when bending notes and holding audience in the holes and havens that provide safe haven for the (usually senior) players and audiences on the blues circuit in Southern Ontario.
Hailing from the mighty Niagara region of Southern Ontario, Spence Mackenzie is literally at the crossroads of the greatest blues migration in the world. As the freedom train rolled over the years, the true blues-men of the delta region, or Kansas City, Chicago or Memphis had to ride the rails thru these parts if they were to get to ANY other part of Canada over the past three quarters of a century. The seeds of that tree were scattered far and wide with out golden horseshoe getting more than it’s fair share. Born into a musical family, the kid showed an affection and affinity for the blues box and soon the riffs were becoming more natural and more a part of his soul. The secrets of the masters became clear as he mastered the classics, and his father was willing and able to pen the experienced and nuanced lines that must bear scrutiny and repeating in a song that transpires mere homage and becomes a true original.
It was a fine late spring evening when the then 17 year old Mackenzie journeyed up the highway to Steeltown to sit down with Kevin to talk about his new CD “Infected With The Blues” and with that all the usual stuff – and a few things no one saw coming. Everyone had a good time and we were treated to Spence playing stripped down with just an acoustic and his ever increasing voice. It was a fine night indeed – and you get to relive it now, on Barber Shop Podcast