What do you do when you’re a skinny white kid from Calgary, Alberta – the heart of Canada’s west? Play the blues, that’s what?
At just 24 years old, Mitch Belot possesses a soul and skill of someone far beyond his years. He started playing guitar at the age of 15, and it wasn’t long after that, he discovered that mystical sound we call The Blues. Instantly, he says he knew he had heard something special. As Mitch describes it, “By accident, you just hear something, and your ears perk up a little bit. And you go, ‘ok, there’s something really awesome about that.’
“It’s so simple too, and I love the simplicity of it. It’s really hard to make something that simple sound as good as it can be. I would hear some really cool swampy blues things that these guys that have actually been through some really hard stuff, that are writing these real cool songs, and you find out it’s from the 20’s and 30’s, and so on.”
So, began young Mitch’s journey into a genre that, to the devout lovers of the blues, is not to be taken lightly. It didn’t take long for him to notice that in blues music, a lot of the songs are very similar, but every blues musician has a different vibe.
He taught himself the old standards, putting his own spin on them, and from there, took that “swampy sound” he loved, and started writing his own songs.
After seeing Mitch perform a handful of times, one thing that that has always stood out for me, aside from his obvious talent, is the genuineness of his performance. I asked him about connecting with a sound that is typically played by old guys from the southern United States.
His reply, “I’m not trying to come across as one of those guys that plays the blues because I’m angsty or sad, that’s not the reason why I do it. It’s more the feel of it. I don’t look at the blues as a sad thing. It’s more a mojo thing. Like taking on the world kind of thing. I’ve been blessed with a really nice upbringing, and I haven’t had too many bad things happen to me (knock on wood), so I like the feel of it. I have a bit of attitude, and don’t mess with me. I’ve got something, and I want to show it to you.”
What Mitch has to show or more over, share, is his what he calls “bluesy happiness”. As a lover of the genre myself, I couldn’t help but smile at this phrase. To me, and I’m sure to most fans, the Blues has a vibe that you can’t help but smile to, so I had to ask Mitch about “bluesy happiness”.
“When I play the blues, or listen to the blues, it makes me smile, it doesn’t make me sad. The stuff that makes me happy is just that stuff that (and I know this is a super over used word but) has mojo, attitude. Bluesy happiness, to me, is something that makes you dance, you can’t help but move around, and makes you feel better about yourself, not make you sad.”
Bless you Mr. Belot! Bless You!
Though he started out playing for older blues fans, Mitch also sees himself as a bit of a torchbearer for the genre, especially for younger music fans. As he puts it, “When a young crowd really enjoys the blues music I’m playing, that makes me feel good, because it makes me feel like I’m passing the blues along a little bit. I like the fact that I’m playing a style of music that is rooted in something older.”
To date, Mitch has released two CD’s, both available on CD Baby; a 5-track self-titled EP (2013) and Down the Rabbit Hole, released in 2015.
A few standouts for me from the recent album are the more rockabilly inspired “Jumping Ship”; a “love gone bad” story, that sounds very personal to Mitch. With a catchy melody and a great hook, “Jumping Ship” is entertaining in its simplicity. “The River” is a wonderful, high-energy, muddy sounding blues track that just makes you want to dance, and “Growing Old Together”. A sweet acoustic number, painting a charming picture of a happy couple growing more in love as each year passes. Sitting in their rocking chairs, in their little house, on a little hill, waking each morning beside each other, enjoying life together. Isn’t that what we all want?
The stories Mitch tells with his music touch on love lost, love found, the simple joys in life – topics his fans can relate to. As Mitch explained to me, “when I move away from the blues a little bit, I take from my own personal experiences. When I write the blues stuff, I try to put myself in that mindset. Maybe taking a little bit different view at it. I like to tell creepy stories, that give goosebumps a little bit. Also, stories that make people relate to, or just stories that make me feel good. I think I’m a short story teller, that gives people a short feeling for a little bit.”
So, what does the future hold for Mitch Belot? Well if you ask him, his ultimate dream would be to be that working, professional musician. Touring around the globe, taking his “bluesy happiness” to music fans all over the world. As Mitch puts it, “I love being in other places for a short amount of time, because I always love coming home, I don’t have to be that monster musician that plays stadiums, just to be that touring musician.”
As far as he sees it, music is his life, and he’ll always be involved somehow, be it on stage, or owning his own guitar shop, where can sell the instruments that make the thing he loves so much. Adding, “I think owning a shop, and giving people the opportunity to play music, by selling them a guitar, or renting them instruments, or whatever, would be real cool.”
My final question for Mitch was whether fans will see a follow up to Down the Rabbit Hole soon. To my delight, Mitch says it’s in the cards, “I’d love to put a new record out as soon as possible. I have a bunch of new material that I have. I really want to share it with the world, I’m proud of them.”
Just one listen to Mitch Belot’s swampy blues, you’ll be hooked on his bluesy happiness too. As Down the Rabbit Hole tagline says, “A swampy, Bluesy trip down a path, to a place you may not be able to come back from.” Really, why would you want to?