Semple shines in Blue Light

Justin Crann
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Release concert goes over well for guitarist

Award-winning guitarist Jack Semple strums out a tune during his release concert for his new album, In the Blue Light, at Mae Wilson Theatre Saturday.

Guitarist Jack Semple took the stage at the Mae Wilson Theatre on Saturday night to promote the release of his latest CD, In the Blue Light.

“I was playing the new music off of the new album, and people haven’t heard any of it before,” said Semple. “So you never know how it’s going to go over with an audience, but I think that people liked it and it went great.”

The Juno-award winning Semple had the audience clapping, stomping, and howling along to the songs off his new album throughout the night, and stopped between individual pieces to speak with the audience.

Semple said he focused in particular on a pair of women at the front of the house who he felt were really into the music.

“I focused on them a lot, because they were grooving in their seats and really feeling the music,” he said.

At one point, he joked about how quiet the audience was being in reaction to one of his songs.

“I hope I wasn’t insulting or anything, but they were very quiet,” he said. “The music on my new album is very danceable... they weren’t a dancing audience, they were a concertgoing audience. So I had to adjust to the audience.”

Part of Semple’s adjustment to the audience was to break out his acoustic guitar for a number of solo performances before the intermission — songs which he felt were “well received” by the audience.

In total, the show brought about 300 people into the Mae Wilson Theatre to hear the man who Graham Hall, artistic director of the theatre, said “is one of the best guitar players in the country right now.”

But Semple, who has played for crowds of thousands across the country, wasn’t concerned about the size of the crowd last night.

“I don’t care how many people are in the audience, as long as they’re enjoying the show,” he said, adding that he definitely felt the crowd was satisfied with the show.

“People bought more of the new album than any other album I had for sale (at the show),” Semple said. “So they must have enjoyed the new songs enough to want to spin the CD on their players.”

Now, Semple said, he’ll be taking a break for Christmas before hitting the road in the new year.

“Next year, I’ll be playing all over the place. In Toronto, Vancouver, and at the Montreal Jazz Fest,” he said. “I’ll also have a gig at the Saskatchewan Jazz Fest at the end of June.”

For more information about Jack Semple, visit his website at

Organizations: Mae Wilson Theatre, Montreal Jazz Fest

Geographic location: Toronto, Vancouver

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