Jesse Dee plays in Banff every chance he gets.
“We play in Banff quite regularly, we come through there as often as we can,” he said in an interview last week.
He and his partner, Jacquie B, have been continuously touring lately, and will be back in Banff, Friday (Nov. 18) for a show at Bruno’s Bar and Grill.
“We really like Banff, and Bruno’s and Gary Gonis – the man’s been incredibly good to us the last couple of years, he really knows how to treat musicians well,” said Dee. “We might not always make a lot of money there, but we always have a great time and he takes care of us. That’s something you need on the road, to keep your morale up.”
The duo, from Wells, B.C., was last in Banff two months ago at the Rose & Crown, and is now headed westward toward home.
“We’re about seven weeks into the CD release tour for our new record,” said Dee. “We’re on the tail-end of a tour that took us from Wells all the way out to Montreal, and we’re on our way back now.”
The album they’re pushing, Our Ghosts Will Fill These Walls, was released in September.
“This is our first full-length record – we did an EP a couple years ago – and it took about 13 months to make, which is kinda a long time, but we’ve been doing so much touring, we had to do little bits here and there, and allocate money and we even had some fans donate a lot of money to help get the record out,” explained Dee.
“We’re really, really happy with this record,” he said. “We didn’t want to put a deadline on it, we wanted to make sure it sounded the way we wanted, and it totally did.”
Describing the sound of the album is difficult, he confessed.
“That’s kinda been the hardest thing – it’s really all over the map,” he said. “The album opens with an alt-country tune, that drops into a very rockish tune, then gets really jazzy and it’s all over the place.
“Some of the reviews we’ve had have focused on that a lot, and we’ve always struggled with a way to describe it, because it really comes from a lot of different places and you’ve got to hear it to know what it is.”
The pair write their music collaboratively, and will play with their drummer, Matt Blackie.
“We’ve been working a lot for the past year with Matt – he has just really added so much to our sound and he’ll be playing with us in Banff – electric guitar, drums and vocals,” said Dee. “I play guitar and Jacquie plays keys and a little bit of accordion as well.”
The band also recently completed a one-month residency at the Cameron House, a Toronto bar with a long history of supporting new talent that has gone on to greatness – including the likes of Blue Rodeo, Jane Siberry, Ron Sexsmith and The Barenaked Ladies.
“It was a really great experience – Toronto’s such a big city to fly through – if you go and play a single show, you’re forgotten right away, there’s so much music in that town,” said Dee. “To make a dent we wanted to stick around for a while. By the last week we had the room full and we accomplished something that was worth it.”
Dee met B at an open stage about four years ago, he said.
“We met with music in the forefront, but Jacquie wasn’t really playing music at the time,” he explained. “We dated for about a year, and then she did some recording on my first record, and eventually we started performing together.
“I think the real clincher for her was our first show that we played together. We got a standing ovation to a full house at a theatre in Red Deer – that doesn’t happen every night – and that was her first experience with performing and I think it sealed the deal for her.”
Jesse Dee & Jacquie B will also play the Rose & Crown in Banff next month, Dec. 20-21.
“The Rose & Crown I have to book almost a year in advance, so I just take whatever I can get, whereas at Bruno’s we basically just call Gary, and he hooks us up most of the time,” said Dee.
Despite having just released an album, as soon as this tour ends, the pair plan to head back into the studio.
“This is our full-time job, we’ve been going straight for about four years now,” said Dee. “We’re actually going into the studio in January to record another one, we’ve got a backlog of songs.
“I don’t want to be playing old material – you get to the point where when you record, you’ve already been playing the songs for two years. We’re trying to catch up to the new stuff.”