Jeff Healey’s new year

Supplied publicity photo, 2004
Jeff Healey Supplied publicity photo, 2004

Jeff Healey is kicking back in the green room of his Toronto club, Healey's. Healey performs in his club on Thursday nights, playing guitar in his inimitable style by placing the guitar on his lap and using all fingers. Healey went blind at the age of one and taught himself to play guitar. Now 37 years old, the Grammy Award-nominated musician is a regular live performer with both The Jeff Healey Band and his jazz group, The Jazz Wizards. A few days into 2004, I caught up with Healey to find out what he thinks the New Year has in store for him.

How were your holidays?
Holidays were fine. My daughter Rachel's birthday is on the 22nd of December, so we celebrated with the family. We did our big New Year's Eve party here at the club. Other than traveling around and seeing other sides of the family, that was about it for the holidays. December was lovely. I wish we could have that kind of [atypically warm] weather year-round.

You also got married recently. What's that like?
Well, this is my second time, so it's fine. Are you asking 'cause you're looking to try it out? You should ask me that again in about ten years and we'll see. I'm kidding! It's great and I knew that would be the case, which is why I undertook the act.

What were the best and worst things that happened to you in 2003?
It's been a great year musically for me and for The Jazz Wizards, we toured around the country, doing theatres and festivals. I guess that the only bad side, musically, was the lack of attendance for many things in [Toronto] due to the whole SARS scare. It was a terrible year for the bar industry. That said, [Healey's] Saturday jazz matinee prevailed, and it did even better than our Thursday night blues. [However,] I'm still not making any money playing jazz.

Are you in the process of recording?
I'm in the process of recording two albums, my own and another jazz CD.

What would you say a young musician in Toronto needs right now?
To move. We already had our big revolution in the 80's when bar owners discovered there are a lot of young musicians out there willing to work for free, which put a lot of the older musicians out of business. Now it's coming down to even free isn't good enough. It's tough. The days of radio airplay list been dictated to by what people are requesting are gone. It's all politics and who you know and how much money is being spent on promoting your record, not what people necessarily wants to hear. That's why I'm looking forward to the Internet wiping out the broadcasting industry as we know it and the major labels' conspiracy as we know it.

Any New Year's resolutions you would like to share?
Continuing to try and improve and progress.

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