Bocephus bounces back: Jamie Perry performs at The Art We Are

He's King, but he's not that King.

Bocephus King, aka Jamie Perry, might lay claim to one of the most original and eclectic musical stylings among B.C. musicians.

After a hiatus of too many years, the indie artist returns to Kamloops Saturday to perform at The Art We Are, a venue that will surely appeal to his artistic soul.

Since his 1996 debut album, Joco Music, Perry consistently transcended categorization yet seemed to naturally take to a blend of blues, alt country, traditional songwriting and contemporary esthetics.

Perry was going strong with his sophomore release, The Blue Sickness in 2001, and with his followup, All Children Believe in Heaven in 2004, then he dropped off the radar.

"It just happened in a way after All Children," he explained. "We made the album and started to roll with it. I just sort of lost the plot, yet I was doing it so it just sort of crushed the soul."

His mojo took a sabbatical. He knew what he was doing but couldn't find the motivation other than to play songs around a campfire.

"I started playing with reality. Why had I even wanted to write songs? So I started hanging out with a buddy and playing in his kitchen. I started to find my way back to something that meant something to me."

Fans of the enigmatic singer-songwriter, who used to play Music in the Park on occasion, will be glad he's rediscovered his muse. His latest and fifth album, Willie Dixon God Damn!, came out a few weeks ago. Unlike its namesake, it is not full of Chicago blues, yet the Chicago Dixon (1915-1932) inhabited was equal parts dangerous and delightful.

"Willie Dixon is an inspiration as a musician in general," Perry explained. "He was not only remaining true to his calling but he goes out and shapes our musical consciousness."

There is, in the title track, an element of getting back into form.

"On a personal basis, we can see the world is getting stranger and stranger. You can become overwhelmed by the anxieties."

Neal Cassady, the Beat figure and inspiration for Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac's iconic novel On the Road, also figures into the literary symbolism on Willie Dixon God Damn! So do Easter mysticism, soulful street carnival blues and border-town roots rock, a Bocephus fixture since his house gigs at the bar in Point Roberts, Wash.

"Cassady's one of the saints that guide the record and give us good stuff."

Perry was also a rambler, travelling to Nashville, New Orleans and New York till his mid 20s. He returned to B.C. in the '90s and released Joco Music, which drew critical and commercial interest, yet he'd never set out to achieve that.

Now he's back, along with support from some 50 musicians, friends and neighbours who pitched in on the recording side.

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