Downstairs, All Ages
DOORS: 7:00 PM // SHOW: 8:00 PM
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Monday March 2, 2020
Billy Raffoul's anthemic debut single "Driver" serves as a potent calling card for the 22-year-old singer, songwriter, and musician. His signature sound
is a rough-hewn, low-timbered rock and roll that nods to the likes of Jeff Buckley, Neil Young, and Joe Cocker, and is powered by Raffoul's gravelly,
soulful voice and deeply felt lyrics. "That's one thing for me -- a song needs to be about something I've experienced or something someone close to
me is going through," Raffoul says of his sources of inspiration. "I find myself going back to moments of time from the past, picking apart these little
experiences and building them into bigger things. I want people to know that the songs are genuine, that they've been lived in."
"Driver" is one of those lived-in songs. It was inspired by his family picking up a hitchhiker one night after Raffoul and his musician father Jody played a gig on Pelee Island in the middle of Lake Erie. "This guy was really out of it, so he ended up staying with us for a few hours," Raffoul says. The following weekend Raffoul told his story of the hitchhiker to songwriter Simon Wilcox and songwriter-producer Nolan Lambroza during a writing session in Los Angeles. "We turned it into something a little more sentimental, in that maybe I'm not singing about someone being lost on the side of the road, but maybe someone lost in life who doesn't know where they're going or what they're supposed to be doing," he explains.
Raffoul has been fairly certain of what he wanted to do with his life from a young age. He grew up in a creative family in the small farming town of Leamington, Ontario -- "the tomato capital of Canada," as he puts it. His mother is an artist, writer, and teacher and his father Jody Raffoul is a solo artist and hometown hero who has opened for everyone from Joe Cocker to Bon Jovi. Raffoul's earliest musical influences come from his dad. "The Beatles were like Jesus in our house," he recalls, adding that he also listened to soul singers like Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. On his tenth birthday, Billy received a 'British Invasion'-inspired guitar with a Union Jack on its front from Jody and started teaching himself to play. By 16, had bought his first real guitar -- a 1968 Gibson Les Paul Black Beauty. "It's the same model and year as the only one Jimi Hendrix was ever photographed playing," Raffoul says.