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STRAB 2019: An Interview with Michael Canfield from Big Shoes

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Big Shoes are one of the acts who will be playing at STRAB 2019 this week. I recently had a chat to Michael Canfield (who is one of the duo’s members). This is what he had to say:

How did all of this come about?

One year ago this month I played the Music Kitchen in Port Elizabeth with Gerald Clark.  The owner of the venue asked if we would allow a young local pianist to sit in.  Ian Mitchell’s recommendation caries lots of weight.

The young man sat it, blew us and the audience away and the seed of a musical relationship was planted. The young man name was James Smith.

Big Shoes
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Later that year, the folks from Better Live, who produce the Knysna  Blues Festival, which I traditionally open and host, asked if I’d do a second set playing with James.  I said absolutely!

We had all of 20 minutes of rehearsal, and then went on and earned standing ovations and a standing ovation! We like to think that our ‘arranged marriage’ was proven to be a good one in that moment.

Conrad Jamneck from Up the Creek saw us in Knysna and invited us there. We did good! That led to an invite to STRAB.  And here we are…

How did you come up with “Big Shoes”?

We were at Up The Creek on the jam van and someone asked what we were called. I looked down at our very large feet, size 12 and 13 respectively, and a brand was born!

But actually, Big Shoes is more a name for this collaborative project between James Smith and Michael Canfield.

What is your favourite thing about STRAB?

The thing I love most about STRAB is that it is a festival put on by music lovers for other music lovers.  My experience there is that the music comes first.  I love that!

What can we expect from Big Shoes at STRAB?

We are very excited to be playing STRAB for the first time. This is my fourth STRAB.

The act has been developing on this tour.  We’ll be playing a collection of our favorite classic blues, soul and rock and roll songs, as well material from my new ‘Born to Boogie’ album and some original material and great arrangements from James’s catalogue.

One of the coolest things about this project is that although we are separated by 45 years in age, he’s 20′ I’m 65, our souls mesh seamlessly because of our mutual love of the music.

The main thing folks can expect from us is a commitment to working our butts off to be sure the audience has a memorable experience.

What are getting up to after STRAB?

We leave STRAB Saturday morning and head to Hoedspruit in Limpopo, then on to Sunday in Dullstroom. Friday the 31st find us at Craft Exchange in Pretoria, Saturday in the East Rand at the Keg & Beagle  in Edenvale, and then the tour concludes with a big time Boogie at Hell’s Kitchen in Melville, Johannesburg.

It’s our plan to make plans to record and tour further after we recover from this 20 something show road trip!

I’d like to thank Michael Canfield and Big Shoes for this interview and I wish them all of the best at STRAB 2019 and with the remainder of their tour.

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