By Keith Sharp
To combat the boredom of life on the Six Nations Reserve, located between Hamilton and Brantford Ontario, young Alexander Kenneth McLeod took up playing guitar. It was a skill he came by honestly as his cousin and both grandparents are all players.
And even though his high school peer group were into rap and hip hop, McLeod forged his own identity listening to Nirvana and Rage Against The Machine. “The moment I heard `Nevermind’ by Nirvana, that was it for me,” explained the former resident of Moose Factory Ontario (located on the southern shores of Hudson’s Bay) who has been a resident of the Six Nations Reserve since 1988.
As his guitar skills developed, A.K (as he is known professionally) developed an affinity for Southern U.S blues and British blues-rock citing an equal connection with both the likes of Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Stevie Ray Vaughan as well as British bands like Bad Company and The Cult. “I am a big Paul Rodgers fan,”McLeod notes, “I am trying to develop a singing style like his.”
Yet developing a reputation as a budding blues rock guitar musician in Canada hasn’t been an easy task for McLeod. With current trends being towards pop-rock, R&B-Rap and Country, he is fully aware that aside from the likes of established players like Colin James, David Wilcox, David Gogo and Colin Linden the existing Canadian blues market is a hard scene to crack.
McLeod made some headway by releasing his `Spirtual Fire’ album which was a mix of traditional blues and southern rock but even he acknowledges the release had all the foibles of a debut release. “I admit it was a little unfocused,” he allows. “It’s the typical record of a blues guitar player trying to also be a singer. But I have been working on my vocals, I am trying to get that strong, British rock type voice and I think that is going to come across a lot stronger on my new album which I have just finished recording, people are going to hear a lot more dynamics in my voice.”
By his own admission, McLeod suffered through a spell of being lost in the business. “It was hard to put a band together, to get gigs and just to put my name out there,” he admitted. “But a year ago, I got connected with the Darren Ross Agency (in Hamilton) and they have been a great help. They look after the business side of things and just let me work on the creative side.”
Working with another agency client, Jace Martin (who served as producer on the new project), McLeod is about to release a second record in September, tentatively titled “The Truth About Me” which he feels is a reflection of the British blues rock style he is keen to develop.
And what is even more encouraging for McLeod is that he is getting gigs. He recently opened for The Trews at a festival staged at the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford August 13th, performed at the Aborigine Day festival in Winnipeg and on Saturday August 26th, will be appearing at Timmins Kayak Challenge Festival on a bill with Honeymoon Suite and Helix.
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