Ideally, the blues road

When you're a wandering blues musician, a lack of adventures on the road is often preferable to the alternative.

When you’re a wandering blues musician, a lack of adventures on the road is often preferable to the alternative.

During their last 100-stop tour, Doc MacLean and Big Dave McLean rescued lawyers from ditches and were mistaken for ‘Toilet Rock’ duo MacLean and MacLean.

This year, there’s been none of that.

“So far, we’re liking our tour to be uneventful. We’ve had enough adventures over the last 40 years,” said MacLean with a laugh.

The weathered blues musicians pass through Whitehorse Thursday as part of an 104-stop cross-Canada musical tour.

McLean and MacLean first met in the mid-‘70s at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. But it wasn’t until they found themselves on the same stage squaring off for the Battle of Nationals for Blues Supremacy in Ear Falls a couple years ago that they decided to play together more formally.

Big Dave McLean, as he is known by the fans who religiously watch him at the Times Change(d) club every Sunday night in his hometown of Winnipeg, got his start in the ‘60s playing with Southern bluesmen Muddy Waters and John Hammond Jr.

Doc MacLean spent the better part of his 38-year career in the Southern US, working in places like Mississippi and Atlanta, belting out his signature Delta-style blues, before moving back to Canada in 2000.

“I’ve really been having a ball touring in Canada and every year it gets bigger,” said MacLean.

Last year, MacLean toured the country with fellow blues singer Michael Pickett and the year before that it was an 100-stop tour with Big Dave McLean.

“You really get into a rhythm doing a long tour like this. It’s almost as easy to do 100 shows as it is 50,” he said.

“The hardest thing is to stop.”

The duo have been selling out shows in small communities, like Vermillion, Alberta, ever since they hit the road in September.

They prefer the smaller towns because they’re more supportive of the arts, said MacLean.

“The big cities are homogenous and are more influenced by mega American culture and people like Britney Spears,” he said.

“But the rest of Canada, they’re the ones out in the trenches making it possible for ordinary artists to play.”

Surprisingly, it’s rural Quebec that has shown the most support for touring blues acts, said MacLean.

“It’s kind of strange since we sing in English and we don’t have a common language and yet they love the blues.”

McLean and MacLean started their tour on the East Coast and have quickly traced their way out West.

Sunday evening, McLean and MacLean played Yellowknife before flying down to Calgary and back to Dawson City to do a show on Monday night.

“We’re really excited about being in the Yukon,” said MacLean.

“We really, really wanted to include as much of Canada as possible. We aggressively went about trying to play different places in Canada.”

Which explains how they ended up coming to the North, where they’ve never toured before.

However, hitting these out-of-the-way communities without a built-in audience isn’t hard, thanks to the internet, said MacLean.

“It’s ironic that with the more technology we have around, the more that traditional music grows,” he said.

“I really do think we’re seeing a renaissance in music because of it.”

Big Dave McLean and Doc MacLean play the Old Fire Hall Thursday night, 8 p.m.

You can check out their tour blog at

Contact Vivian Belik at