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Chris Caddell & The Wreckage

Posted by Shane Macaulay on 2014/04/17

Who would’ve thought that Belleville, Ontario could produce a musician with the southern vibe and bluesy reverence of a Stevie Ray Vaughan or Doyle Bramhall II?

Chris Caddell’s raw soulful voice and emotive guitar skills were an instant hit when the then-teen made the big move to Toronto. Within no time, his versatility was sought by various acts. He landed a lengthy gig touring with platinum-selling pop singer Fefe Dobson and also played with more rock-driven artists like Thornley and Rex Goudie. His primary current gig is as the other guitar player in Colin James' band, and Chris also tours theatres in the fall acoustically as the other half of Colin's duo.

His 2008 debut solo album, Chris Caddell & The Wreckage, was produced by Casey Marshall, and included collaborations with Ian Thornley. He supported it with many coveted gigs, such as opening for Colin James at Toronto’s venerable Massey Hall; Grady and The Trews at the Queen West Musicfest; and, perhaps most impressive of all, winning the fan-voted contest to open for Bon Jovi and Kid Rock at Toronto’s massive Rogers Centre in July 2010. July of 2012 included a major hometown show in Belleville opening for the Steve Miller Band.

The follow-up album, Tough Lung, was recorded in Toronto, although it very well could have been recorded in Macon, Georgia, or Memphis, Tennessee, or Austin, Texas. Released in April 2014, it is inescapably a roots rock album rooted in the Southern tradition, but comes from the hands of another of a long line of great Canadian guitar players.

Chris says, "It was important to me to make a song album that has some good guitar on it, and not just another solo heavy blues album. Of course, there is a blues influence, but it is very much a rock album that could be from somewhere in the South, although I'm proud to live in and have made this record in Toronto."

Chris continues to perform with his own band, The Wreckage, with numerous dates coming up in 2014 to support the release of Tough Lung.

Interestingly, Chris didn’t get into music until his teens. He'd sing around the house, mess around on the drums and could play a few things on the guitar, but it wasn’t until he was about 14 that he starting actually learning full songs on guitar — then he was hooked. “My friend started playing at that time and started a band. There were afternoon concerts in the school cafeteria and I’d watch those guys play,” Chris recalls. “I thought, ‘I gotta do that.’”

To appease his mom, he applied for broadcast journalism, but he never went. Instead, he focused on music, writing originals with plans to release his own album. But once he moved to Toronto, he just wanted to get a gig anywhere he could. He started going to local jams and had the confidence and talent to infiltrate a bunch of talented strangers — and get noticed — and offers.

“I got so busy, I didn’t have time to do the album,” he laughs. “It started happening quickly. I met Eric Paul who was in Big Sugar and Truth Or Rights at the time. He was doing the Healey jam in the basement club that’s no longer there. My roommate was playing with Jay Levine and James Bryan from the Philosopher Kings. I heard about the audition for Fefe Dobson from them and I rented a bass before the audition, learned the tunes and got the job. It was my first time touring with an artist.

I lucked out because we went pretty hard right away. I did that for two-and-a-half years.”

Chris liked everything about road-life — from the traveling to meeting new people and playing big shows. In the decade since he came to Toronto, he has also entered the studio or shared the stage with Sass Jordan, with whom he still plays; Hawksley Workman, Grady, the Trews, Amanda Marshall, Melissa O’Neill, Rex Goudie, Tara Sloane, Susie McNeil, and the late Jeff Healey. He was also a member of long-running cover band Stifler’s Mom at the Orbit Room on Sunday nights with an esteemed group of professional musicians, which has now morphed into Horshack, a more 70s based rock outfit.

Enjoying working as a sideman and front-and-centre, Chris says, “I just want to be known as a hard working musician. I make a living playing with other people, but I’d like to be my own boss eventually.”

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