"People are saying it's the longest-running blues matinee in the world," says Joe Murphy. "I'm not making that claim, it's kind of a joke, but it has been over 25 years and it is an achievement."
On Saturday afternoon, just like every Saturday afternoon for the last two-and-a-half decades, Joe Murphy & The Water Street Blues Band is having a blues party at Your Father's Moustache. But to mark this week's milestone occasion, Murphy and his band will be recording—with a bit of help from CBC—the entire afternoon, evening and night for a special live anniversary album.
"We're going to bring on some of the people who have played with me over the years," Murphy says. Along with the band's regular R&B and blues repertoire, he'll be introducing a new song he wrote in Mississippi.
"They say the first cut is the deepest, and when you first cut of a song that you've never played before, there's a good chance it's going to have a special kind of energy," says Murphy, a professional musician since he was 21 years old. "I'm a firm believer in that, and I fly by the seat of my pants a lot."
That's how he got into the blues in the first place. A schoolteacher by trade, Murphy started playing blues matinees way back in the late '80s, during what he calls the Matinee Wars in Halifax bars. "It was the thing to do on the weekends. We started at Ginger's Tavern, and the 'wars' meant that whoever was doing the best matinees would get re-booked for a second week or third week per month, on a regular basis. We won, you could say," he explains.
Murphy then took a long trip to Louisiana, learning about Cajun and Zydeco music. "When I came back, Alan Creaser had bought Your Father's Moustache and pretty much invented what it is now, which is a really nice bar. They invited us to play and we've been there ever since. John and Shaun O'Hearn eventually took over. It's been great."
One of the reasons Murphy's blues matinee is so good is because of the patrons who love to dance. "It's packed every week, we have a core group of people who always come every week and they dance. That's what makes it, the dancing," he says. "It's great for the dancers and it's great for us."
As far as local blues legends go, Murphy is one of them. On harmonica and guitar, he's played with Dutch Mason, John Lee Hooker, Otis Rush and many more, and his Saturdays are known among musicians across Canada and the US. He especially loves when tourists stumble upon Your Father's Moustache, because it's now a tradition. On Saturday, you can be a part of Murphy's anniversary and live recording.
"We're going on at 4pm and we're going overtime," he says. "We're gonna go until we've recorded an album!" But you better get there early, and you better bring your dancing shoes. Here's to 25 more!
Joe Murphy & The Water Street Blues Band 25 Year Anniversary Show
Saturday, November 28, 4pm
Your Father's Moustache 5686 Spring Garden Road