Singing the blues away

Perpetual blues machine Adam Karch picked up the guitar at age 12.

Perpetual blues machine Adam Karch picked up the guitar at age 12. He used to head to the barn on the family farm in L’Acadie, Quebec to watch his brothers play with their band. One day, the lead guitarist showed him how to play. It was love at first strum.

“The first song I learned how to play was Angie from the Stones. I just kept playing 10 hours a day,” he says from his home outside Montreal. “I don’t practice that much anymore.”

“All my brothers stopped playing when I started,” he says. “Dad was really supportive … he built a stage in the barn with lights. I’d go up there with my band and practice. It got me used to playing in front of people. I’m really kind of shy. I don’t really like attention.”

It wasn’t until later that he opened his mouth to sing. What happened next was a music miracle. The young man, who spoke with a stutter his whole life, was able to sing without faltering.

“I’ll be honest. I stutter. And when I sing, I don’t. It’s been like that 35 years. I have good days and bad days, but when I sing it’s gone … I remember someone telling me that my stutter was gone the first time I sang. I didn’t even notice. It’s one of those things. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t know quite why.”

A few years later, the budding bluesman found himself touring Germany with the late-great Jeff Healey. While on tour, he had the chance to rub elbows with the likes of Phil Collins and James Brown.

“I got to hang out with him for the month,” says Karch. “It was so nice to be with a Canadian icon.”

Although Karch grew up in Quebec, he speaks primarily in English, allowing him to sing and converse with crowds in both French and English. “I’m pretty much bilingual. It’s fun when I get to go out West and play and speak in English. I don’t get to do that often.”

Karch played an afternoon show at last year’s Vancouver Island Blues Bash and won over the huge audience that gathered to hear him play. The sun was glistening on the Inner Harbour and the crowd was tuned into what he was playing.

“It was amazing. It was really, really cool. I don’t get out of Quebec very often, and I couldn’t have been invited to a nicer festival. The way the audience listens to the music, the way they applaud, the way they understand it — it’s a whole new way of appreciating an artist. I felt really at home.”

And so the hosts of the Blues Bash invited him back, in hopes of recreating some of that magic.

“We got an overwhelming response from the 2,000 people who saw last year’s performance,” says Darryl Mar, executive director of the Victoria Jazz Society.

This time around, Karch is on the same bill as Stephen Barry Band, also from Quebec, on what is being touted as Quebec Blues Night Double Bill, Sun., Sept. 1.


The other ticketed performance at this year’s bash is Duke Robillard, someone Mar calls “one of the best blues artists in the world.” There are free afternoon performances in the Inner Harbour all three days.

More information and tickets at





Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
Get the word on art on Sunday afternoons in Victoria

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria presents Sunday lecture series in March

GVPA authors
Write On! Greater Victoria Public Library releases 2021 local authors collection

Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) is celebrating local authors with the unveiling… Continue reading

Hermann's Jazz Club
Hermann’s celebrates International Women’s Day and St. Paddy’s Day

International Women’s Day will be celebrated at Hermann’s Jazz Club with an… Continue reading

Gabriola Island poet Naomi Beth Wakan’s latest book is ‘Wind on the Heath.’ (Photo courtesy Elias Wakan)
Former Nanaimo poet laureate revisits past poems in latest collection

Gabriola Island’s Naomi Beth Wakan presents career-spanning ‘Wind on the Heath’

The Sooke Fine Arts Show will be online again this year, showcasing unique artworks from Vancouver Island and B.C.’s coastal island artists from July 23 to Aug. 2. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke Fine Arts Show goes virtual for second year in a row

Art exhibition and show set for July 23 to Aug. 2

Donna Hales next to one of her paintings of Sooke. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville artist Donna Hales still displaying her work at age 94

Current exhibit at the McMillan Arts Centre through April 1

Nanaimo painter Shawnda Wilson hangs her exhibit Tropical Wallpaper at Jonny the Barber. The show runs until the end of March. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Nanaimo painter battles pandemic blues with tropical exhibition

Shawnda Wilson presents ‘Tropical Wallpaper’ at Old City Quarter barbershop

It’s been almost a year since the last public performance inside the Chemainus Theatre. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Donors pledge $60,000 in matching campaign at Chemainus Theatre

Perrys, Hiltons and Duncan Iron Works help to Bridge the Gap during COVID shutdown

Artist Sandra Meigs will be the next speaker in NIC’s online 2021 Artist Talk series, appearing virtually on Friday, March 5 at 1 pm. For the full schedule and link to attend the Artist Talk Online Series, visit (Photo: The Glass Ticker (2017) — 15’ X 9’ X 5’, wood, enamel, lights, aluminum, glass, automata. Photo by Toni Hafkenscheid.)
Celebrated artist and mentor Meigs joins North Island College Artist Talk series

Vivid, immersive, and enigmatic style combines the complex with comic elements

Arts Laureate Barbara Adams joins artist Luke Ramsey and Mayor Kevin Murdoch in front of the Parade of Play mural at the Oak Bay High track. (Black Press Media file photo)
Curtain draws to a close on Oak Bay arts laureate’s term

Barbara Adams has been a champion for arts in the community

The students in the Timberline Musical Theatre program are rehearsing this year’s production, Once Upon a Mattress, three days per week after school in preparation for their upcoming virtual performances. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Island high school’s musical theatre program hoping for last-minute ticket surge

Popular annual run of Timberline shows costs $7,000-$8,000 to stage, sold $750 in tickets

Steve Bick is coming out of his COVID cocoon with a curated compilation of original tracks by West Coast musicians. (Submitted photo)
Curated album showcases West Coast musicians

‘Locals Only – Volume One’ features an eclectic mix of tunes from musicians living on the Pacific Rim

WILDLIFE TREE: Tofino Poet Laureate Christine Lowther stands next to a giant cedar tree on District Lot 114, the site of Tofino’s controversial affordable housing project. The tree was pinned with an official Ministry of Forests yellow wildlife tree sign to educate fallers that the tree needs to be left standing for food, shelter and nesting. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Tofino author Christine Lowther calling for poetry about trees

“I’m thrilled to be of service to trees through poetry.”

Most Read