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Joey Wright can’t be labeled

He's featured in Donaleighs' Songwriter Series on December 12
Joey wright
Joey Wright features songs from his newest CD and from across his career (Photo provided)

Musical categories make for easier recognition for fans, but also serve as barriers for artists who display some talent and dislike being stuck in a box.

As such, Joey Wright thinks such labels a crock. That’s why he includes a comma in the title of his newest CD, Country, Music.

Joey tells BarrieToday the comma represents “the imaginary lines we create to separate ourselves from one another... patriotism has always seemed foolish to me. Also, I’ve lived in the Lanark Highlands for 15 years now, so it's also 'living in the country'. And lastly, it's a jab at musical categorization as my music covers a range of rhythmic and harmonic sounds.”

Wright will play the Songwriter Series at Donaleighs Irish Public House in Barrie on Tuesday, Dec. 12. Growing up in Toronto, Joey began his musical journey by sneaking in to iconic clubs like Chicago’s and Grossman’s Tavern, underage, to see guitar luminaries like Jeff Healey and David Wilcox.

Hearing them play growing up was, for Joey Wright, like being emotionally awakened. “With Healey and Wilcox, seeing them play in bars when I was a young showed me that (playing music) was possible. Up to that point, music was as real as cartoons for me. Something clicked in me and I realized that this was something I could maybe do. Blues guitar is distilled emotion.”

Further avoiding the labels, Joey found himself influenced by piano wizards Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson. “I still marvel at their virtuosity.”

Bluegrass innovator Ralph Stanley and guitar genius Doc Watson also worked their way into the mix.

“Ralph's singing and banjo feel is deep, mysterious and beautiful. He was as he did and did what he was. Like zen.

“Doc is so honest, no BS. He brought folk songs into my life. I became aware of song form and story then.”

Those who make the journey to Donaleighs can expect “humour, insight, emotion, a new idea. Simone Schmidt and Don Kerr (who share the bill with Joey) are amazing.”

As for songs off the Country, Music album, “Meteor is the song I'm most connected to right now. It fell out in a flash.”

And the Songwriter Series touches on the writing process. “I'll usually think about process and the creative well. I'm fascinated by that. I'll bring a funny story, too.”

Donaleighs is located at 28 Dunlop St. E. To learn more, click here.