Blues trio brings rhythm to city

Ottawa’s HOROJO Trio is a well-travelled blues band that will roll into Lethbridge for a show at Sister’s Pub & Grill this Sunday.

The group consists of Jamie Holmes, Jeff Rogers, and JW-Jones, all of whom make music their main business. Drummer Holmes is a performance instructor at Carleton University who specializes in reading, counting, co-ordination, and the importance of ‘working in a band.’ He’s also a touring musician. Rogers is predominantly a singer and piano player, who works and travels with various musical groups. Jones plays guitar and is a Billboard Top Ten Blues Artist and Juno nominee.

Jones was on the road from Nebraska to Minnesota as he described the formation of the HOROJO Trio, and there have been some impressive highlights.

“Jamie, the drummer, and I used to tour together years ago. We have a long history together. We are very close friends. Jamie started working with Jeff and they had a group called Beats and Keys. There was a charity event one night in Ottawa and for the after party it was Beats and Keys playing. I brought down my guitar and my amp and threw it on stage with the guys to see if we could cook something up. There was just instant chemistry. It was a really special, natural thing. The 45-minute set turned into a 2-hour session. We started the band, and it wasn’t long before we started thinking about going down to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge (IBC).”

The group headed down to Memphis in 2020 to perform at the IBC. Jones said there were 200 bands at the event and HOROJO “won the entire thing.” They walked away with top honours and Jones also won guitar player of the year.

“Immediately we went from a band that had been together for a year and a half, doing gigs here and there, to being a big deal on the US blues scene-for a couple of minutes. The pandemic hit just days later.”

He continued, “We had this big prize package with all these festivals (lined up) and then the world shut down and we temporarily lost everything. Even though it felt like a downer at the time, it gave us some perspective and time to create a debut record, from writing it to recording it. We were just about to release it through a distribution deal in the US when Stony Plain Records came on board and said, ‘Hey, we want this,’ so we signed a record deal with them.”

Having the backing of record company personnel has opened doors for the trio. The band is currently on a five-week tour that covers 24 towns and cities from Memphis to Houston to Las Vegas and ending at home in Ottawa.

Learn more about them at horojotrio.com/home or find them on social media.

Cal Braid, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Lethbridge Herald