Above: Conrad, pictured with his sometime-collaborator and brother Beau
The prairies of yore – with its train hoppers, explosive strikes, Métis rebels, vaudevillians, Franco poets, and homesteaders – holds a spell over many Manitoba musicians, particularly folkies. Nearly all savvy musicians are prone to self-mythologizing, and we at Bluebloods are also tempted to costume ourselves in this romanticized image.
But le gant fits only loosely. For one thing, it goes without saying that the reality of musicians’ lives and practice tends to be considerably more prosaic than whatever mythology we’re hawking. Most musicians, producing music from makeshift studios and noisy bars, quickly get too old and broke to pass their musical habit off as a harmless hobby, but not successful enough to pass it off as a respectable profession. With Bluebloods, for whom, shucks, this is also true, the following biographical details can be added as a courtesy to press and bloggers:
Reared musically in an Anglican boys choir, Bluebloods’ central creator Conrad Sweatman (guitarist, producer, songwriter) was born in Winnipeg, Treaty 1 land, and lived long enough in London (UK) to learn a thing or two about making laptop music. He is grateful to have moved home, permanently it seems, to Manitoba. There, he collaborates with singers and other musicians to create the sounds of Bluebloods, whose cheeky name refers to the noble blue-collar lineage and subarctic ice running through Manitoba’s veins.
With biographical backgrounds so often this mundane, it’s no wonder musicians indulge in self-mythology. Although there’s another reason, at least in the present case, why trading excessively on the image of the prairie’s past deceives and won’t quite do. It’s not just that this image is a caricature of a bygone era in which, let’s be honest, WASPs mostly called the shots politically. An era in which colonialism, sexism, and racism swaggered even more openly than they do today. It’s also that the musical styles that tend to enshrine this image (country, folk, bluegrass, roots, rock), while still dominant in Manitoba, are gradually having to make room for fresher styles, like hip hop, electronic dance music, and R&B, all which bring their own mythos. Styles, frankly, more in touch with Winnipeg’s evolving social fabric, and that inspire Bluebloods as much as anything played on a guitar.
So let us – at Bluebloods and as Manitoba musicians, hoping more of our peers are starting to think along the same lines – learn from Kent Monkman’s inspiring example by mythologizing and self-mythologize in ways that are both forward-looking and backward-looking; in ways that imagine what we could become as well as what we are and once were. Let us recall the poetry of Gabriel Roy, the stories of Beatrice Culleton Mosionier, the songs of Neil Young, and the spirit of Louis Riel and Tommy Douglas, at his best, while rocking 3Peat, Joanne Pollock, and Winnipeg’s Most. Let us revive the harmonies of Lenny Breau and learn the counterpoint of Glenn Buhr (or vice versa) while overcoming the provincialism that makes us resist learning the backbeats of London and Tokyo. And let us, at least those of us given to soapboxing, have the grace not to take ourselves too seriously.
Anyway, that’s what Bluebloods is about or aims to be.
For press interested in interviews and / or hearing the Make it Rain EP in full before its spring 2019 release (exact date and event details TBA) please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.