For someone who was reluctant to perform live, Vancouver Island native Jesse Roper is certainly making up for lost time. Celebrating the release of his third album, `Access To Infinity’, Roper is about to embark on a Western Canadian swing opening for Big Wreck which will include key dates in Seattle, Santa Ana, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
This is coming off a successful Fall tour opening for Burton Cummings and a solo swing through the Maritimes. Not bad for a guy who used to shake and shiver at the mere thought of stepping on stage.
“It’s true” noted the resident of Metchosin, located at the southern tip of Vancouver. “I used to hate the idea of performing in front of people. I had zero self confidence. I was more at home sitting around a camp fire than going on stage.”
Influenced by the likes of Jim Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and AC/DC,” Roper did find a creative outlet in writing original material, first recording the Roper Show EP and then two albums’, `Son Of John” and “Red Bird” “I was definitely inspired by Jimi Hendrix,” Roper noted. “I thought, if I could just write songs like him.”
Working as a painter while he struggled to combat his stage nerves, Roper attracted the attention of Morgan Brooker’s Blue Heron Management agency which convinced him to step up his game performance-wise. And it was a gig at a sold-out Sugar Club venue in Victoria, where he debuted ‘Red Bird’ that gave him the confidence boost he was looking for. “The place was packed, (650 capacity) everyone screaming my name, I thought Wow! Okay this works”.
Under the direction of his management team and booking agency support from The Feldman Agency, Roper has been building his performance resume over the past couple of years with appearances at key Western festivals like Rock The Shores, Rifflandia and the Burnaby Blues Festival, supporting for the likes of Keith Urban, Spirit Of The West and Colin James.
With his new album, `Access To Infinity’, Roper is widening his scope to push his music in a more blues rock direction. I am a rock n roll chameleon, one day I’ll be writing country songs and be thinking of writing a country album and then the next day, I’ll be singing Stevie Ray songs and be thinking of doing a Stevie Ray blues album,” he explained. “But with `Access To Infinity’ there’s a definite blues rock feel as well as some traditional delta blues. I definitely don’t want to get into pigeon-holing into one kind of blues music.
Recorded at Vancouver’s Warehouse Studios and produced by Ian Davenport (July Talk, Supergrass) Roper says the selection of “Cherry” as the kick-off single on the album was based on the track’s blues rock direction which his management felt had the best shot at radio exposure. “I didn’t pick it myself but I agree that it is important for any record to get radio exposure.”
As for why the album is called `Access To Infinity’, Roper tells the story about when he is alone, how he likes to talk to himself and how he fantasized about interviewing himself ( think of scenes from The Commitments movie) . “So tell me Jesse, what does it feel like to be a rock star. “Well Jim It’s like having an Access To Infinity”. Then I thought, wow! what a great idea for an album title.”
In being selected to open for Ian Thornley’s Big Wreck Western Canadian tour, Roper hopes he can stretch out his live performance and respond to an audience that’s obviously going to be rock oriented. “I opened for Burton Cummings and that was a great experience but I felt I had to reign myself in, that if I tried to go took much over the top, it wouldn’t be appreciated. But performing with Big Wreck will be something special, Ian is one of my heroes.”
As an additional thrill, Roper will be opening for Big Wreck at places like Seattle’s Crocodile Club, San Francisco’s Independent Club, Santa Ana and the legendary Roxy Club in Los Angeles. Toronto area fans can catch Jesse when he opens for Rik Emmett April 26th at the Richmond Hill Centre For Performing Arts.
“A friend sent me a video of Jay Zee performing with Linkin Park at the Roxy and I’m thinking, hey I’m also going to be playing there,” Roper enthused. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”