Les Copeland

Guitarist Les Copeland is one of the superb talents from British Columbia, beginning his musical career as a country blues guy with a bottleneck stuck on one of his fingers. He has subsequently developed great versatility, adding material by jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery and rocker Chuck Berry to his repertoire, among moves that would make his mentor, Robert Johnson, want to hustle back to the crossroads for another midnight meeting. Copeland actually discovered the Delta blues through a later disciple than Johnson, none other than the brilliant, highly electrified Mississippi Fred McDowell, whose recording of the standard "Red Cross Store" totally turned Copeland around, at the age of 11, no less. McDowell was able to touch the hearts of many such listeners when the Capitol label decided to give away a free copy of the latest recording by the bluesman to whoever sent a coupon in.

The British Columbia lad took off on a personal odyssey of blues research and by 15 was already a professional, disguising his age in order to rock out at Vancouver Island clubs. He almost immediately stepped into the shoes of a leader, fronting the Les Copeland Blues Band and later Les Copeland & the Red Hot Ramblers. These groups have performed at most of the major blues and folk festivals in the Pacific Northwest, as well as haunting many a tavern. Copeland also seems to be coping with the tentative nature of the group Indecision, featuring his regular collaborator George Bensmiller. Subsequent generations of up-and-coming string-benders are happy that Copeland has made his talents as a guitar teacher available. ~ Eugene Chadbourne

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