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Chris Cain doesn’t mind the travel if it means he can perform often

Carol Feineman

Blues guitarist/songwriter Chris Cain doesn’t mind spending endless hours in a van nearly every week traveling on generic highways to play yet another gig before nameless faces, only to go through the same process again a few days later.

For the past 20 years-plus, the San Jose native has regularly played funky blues in clubs and halls across the United States. Now 47, Cain had his first professional performance at age 15.

“I meet lots of nice people. Music has been the amazing thing in my world. Thank God, I don’t know what else I would be doing, maybe reading comic books,” Cain laughed over the phone last week from the Bay Area. “I perform whenever they let me … the Bay Area, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Folsom, Sacramento on weekends, Lake Tahoe, Blues Society functions, the East Coast.”

Due to spiraling gig commitments on both coasts in the early 1980s, Cain in fact gave up teaching a blues combo class at San Jose State University after two years of “total fun.”

Cain became just as amused on the road; he still doesn’t let a thousand miles or more deflect his enthusiasm to play gigs several states over.

“When I drive across the country with my little orchestra, I hop in a van and start steering because ‘they’ want you and they’re over there,” Cain explained. “In the middle of that, you find all these places to see. The other day, we went to Washington and found a slot car track there, so we raced cars. We weren’t just sitting in a van, waiting for the club to show. If your traveling partners are getting along and don’t drive each other too crazy and are funny, it’s great.”

While he loves performing outside of the Bay Area, Cain has lived through experiences he wouldn’t repeat again.

“I had a band on the road eight weeks straight – that definitely will be in the book,” Cain recounted. “If you eat the wrong food, stay up raising heck, you really don’t want to get in the van and drive for 10 days.”

With that type of experience relegated to the past, Cain is rather happy to keep jumping into his vehicle with his band.

“I’m not tired yet. Right now, I feel kind of spunky,” said Cain, who will appear with his four-piece dance band Saturday at the Center for the Arts.

He also believes his musicianship is just now peaking.

“I just hope that I’m starting to play my instrument now. You play and play and play for years, then suddenly you become quite clear, wiser in your choices,” Cain said. “Maybe I’m a little wiser in my musical choices.”

KNOW & GO

WHAT: Chris Cain Band in a dance party

WHEN: Saturday at 8 p.m.

WHERE: Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St., Grass Valley

ADMISSION: $15. Advance tickets at Love Shack Records, Yabobo, BriarPatch and The Book Seller or by calling (800) 594-8499

INFORMATION: 274-8384


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