Big Pacific – Welcome to the Party
12 songs – 47 minutes
Based out of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Big Pacific is a four-piece ensemble of veteran Canadian musicians who deliver guitar-driven music that melds West Coast blues and classic-sounding rock into a pleasant, original sound that’s all their own.
Led by guitarist/vocalist Roly Sandoval, a native of Calgary who’s been active in bands and as a studio musician since the ‘80s, they produce strong, deep-in-the-pocket grooves and highly danceable, melodic themes throughout this all-original set, a follow-up to their first release, Jones’n for the Road.
He’s backed by an all-veteran lineup. Drummer Nick Dokter’s originally from South Africa and started playing professionally at age 14. Prior to migrating to Canada, he was based out of Europe, where he was a studio musician at several venues, including Pye Records – the label created by Petula Clark’s father and produced The Kinks, Brotherhood of Man and other international stars.
Keyboard player John “Johnny Blitz” Hannah doubles on vocals and guitar and has an extensive background that includes eight years as a touring member of Bryan Adams’ band, two more with Heart and appearances on both the David Letterman Show and at The Princess Diana Trust Concert. A native of Nanaimo, where the band’s based, bassist Wayne Veillet, meanwhile, has been a longtime presence on the local scene.
Fat guitar licks open “Welcome to the Party” before the band quickly joins in. It’s a loping, medium-paced shuffle that announces that they’re ready to travel from Nanaimo to Newfoundland to do the best they can as they invite fans to join in and enjoy the action. Sandoval’s range is somewhat limited, but his voice is inviting, and the full group provides choral accompaniment on the chorus.
The tempo picks up, but the feel remains the same for “Bad Girl,” a stop-time rocker with a classic rock feel, and “Rack ‘em Up,” which describes a Saturday night out with a long-legged lady with red hair, before Hannah’s keys come to the fore for “Slip Away,” a hard shuffle with layered vocals that urges a reluctant lover to join in on a secret liaison.
“Lovin’ Arms” is a guitar-driven rocker with an old-school feel that keeps the feeling going before yielding to “Here on the East Side,” a powerful tribute to the band’s favorite part of town. The soulful ballad “Hard Road” instantly changes the feel as it reflects on the intimacy of a relationship and the strength the lady needs to maintain when the lovers are apart.
The band kicks into high gear for the driving original, “California Girl,” which wonders what the title beauty did to make the singer feels the need to dance with her until morning comes. Unfortunately, the feeling isn’t mutual because the woman slips away in the rocker “Run to the Night.” “Blue Moon Blues,” a super-fast shuffle, celebrates a reunion before the acoustic ballads “As We Go” and “Here’s to Yesterday” end the action.
Available through multiple online vendors and as a disc or digital download from the band’s website (above), this one’s perfect if you remember pet rocks, leisure suits and yearn for the throwback sound of the ‘70s – from which this band draws its roots. The album’s pleasant and the band probably rocks it in a bar, but this one would need a major infusion of true blues to maintain a blues fan’s interest.