The blues festival regular and 2016 representative for Melbourne at the International Blues Competition has recently fallen ill and as expected, his musician friends have rallied.
Jesse Valach hails from Tauranga, New Zealand, and has been resident in Australia for some years. I first came across Jesse when he was fronting Blues Mountain. His current band is the Testaments and his music spans a range of genres, from blues to soul, reggae to roots.
Recognised as a genuine rising star in the Australian Blues Scene, he’s gone beyond his early promise and developed into a great, well-loved and widely respected blues musician and songwriter. He is a blues festival regular and 2016 representative for Melbourne at the International Blues Competition, and over the years has performed alongside some of Australia’s biggest names in blues music including Russell Morris, Geoff Achison, Jeff Lang, Lloyd Spiegel, Jimi Hocking, Ray Beadle and on numerous occasions he has been the dynamic guitarist behind renowned late harmonica player Mr Chris Wilson.
It was a great shock early this month when I read, “As everyone may be aware I had a stroke a couple a weeks ago…” on his Facebook page.
He went on to say, “I’m ok. I’m in good spirits. Age, my boys & my whanau are helping me recover. If I haven’t messaged back or called please know that I am grateful for your thoughts. I hope it doesn’t seem that I’m pushing everyone away. I am just taking a moment to myself to get well again. I’m going to get better. I’ve started some speech rehab & everyday there are small improvements. I will get better & I will be back at it.”
It goes without saying that while the current COVID pandemic has been a major financial setback, the extra demands of this setback have been devastating for the local musician, but as expected, his musician friends have rallied.
Ben Wicks, the founder of the Blues Roulette team, was quick to get a new EP featuring Jesse out immediately, titled Jesse Valach & Blues Roulette. Featuring Jesse on vocals and guitar, and the rhythm section of Wicks and drummer Johnny Tesoriero, the release intends to bring that community together for a special cause.
Income generated from the EP will go directly to Jesse to help ease the financial burden as he gets back on his feet.
“Jesse and I cut our teeth in this scene at the same time, and he’s become a great artist and friend. We’ve had this recording in the can for a while and I felt compelled to release it now to do what I could to help. It’s also a reminder of what a talented and big-hearted man he is. It shows through clearly in these tracks,” says Wicks.
Jesse was very grateful for everyone who played a part in putting together this epic EP.
“The support from my bro Ben for the last 20 or so years has been solid and as I journey through my rehab in the recent weeks, that support has continued,” Jesse shared.
“Thank you Fraser Montgomery from The Aviary Recording Studio, Tony Jack Mantz from Deluxe Mastering. I’m still not 100% with my speech, small improvements every day. I want to start conversing with everyone & am going to make an effort to give someone a call once a week. Ben my bro you’re up first.”
The EP itself is the same high quality we have come to expect from Blues Roulette’s last four EPs.
There are three tracks on the EP, all featuring Jesse’s trademark virtuoso guitar and vocals, and with Ben and Johnny providing solid support. It’s a big ask to pick a track, but ‘Wanted You There’ would probably be it. It’s straight into that trademark guitar sound of Jesse’s, with a strong beat and Ben’s bass nicely behind the guitar.
Now it’s down to you.
Head over to the Bandcamp link and buy a copy. One for yourself, and get a few friends one too. Please note the “or more” on the purchase link. At least head into double figures per copy, this is about helping a mate, as well as getting some great music.