Joe Fournier simply plays American roots music - country soul, folk, rockabilly and blues - with stories that will make you laugh, cry and cringe, sometimes all in the same verse. He has a genuine eye for detail and storytelling that doesn’t get in the way of a decent riff ... like a slap in the face with a rolled up copy of ‘No Depression’.
With his "lyrics as sharp as a broken beer bottle" commentaries on the human condition, delivered with a direct personal vocal style and driving rhythm and slide guitar, Joe has steadily built a following on the international festival and house concert circuit.
His first appearance, at age 12, was filling in for the band at his parent's bar who were too drunk to play. The people ate it up and Joe was hooked.
"Seems like I've always been on the move. My family likely moved around 21 times before I hit the road with my first band. Went through at least as many schools. We did manage to settle down for a bit in Northern Ontario. My folks ran a beat up old hotel that featured live country music six nights a week. We lived upstairs - and that's where I got the notion to learn the guitar. I'd bug those road weary bastards to teach me the chords and words to all their tunes every chance I'd get."
He spent the next few decades trying to 'make it' in the business, but at 30 - after a demo deal with a major label fell through and his manager quit to go work with Joan Rivers (of all people), he'd had enough. Instead Joe started writing and recording for other folks, learning how to work a studio and finding bits of production work along the way. He also began picking up local work as a sideman too, working 3 to 6 nights a week playing anything that came along.
" I was a proper gig-pig. Never said no to anything. Pop, polka, blues, rockabilly, new country, old country - even took a gig playing Ringo in a Beatles tribute act. Toured around for a bit in a limo with a Willie Nelson stand-in too. Saw my share of bar brawls and bad deals. Got divorced a few times as well."
After having exhausted his creativity and enthusiasm in Ontario, Joe and his girlfriend bought a little shack on the south shore of Nova Scotia and proceeded to rebuild it into a living/studio space. It was while banging and sawing that he started getting ideas for the kind of songs he'd never written before. Songs that drew on his country roots, personal experiences and crazy characters met while gigging and traveling all those years. Soon there was enough material to fill two albums.
" I set up this little 4 track, a drum box and a few mics and started banging off these little tunes just for the hell of it in my spare time. It sure wasn't any kind of pro setup. So, I get this thing mixed on my crappy board and speakers and start listening back. I mean, man! I didn't know what to call it but it was the first time I ever recorded anything that really made me feel like playing it for someone else."
Raw Sugar Shed (2002) received rave reviews and in no time flat he was fielding calls from publishers and managers from Nashville to Europe and beyond. The next two years were spent touring around Canada, England and Scandinavia to enthusiastic crowds. In Nova Scotia he received three MIANS nominations for best songwriter, best male vocalist and best country/roots album. Joe also appeared at Canada's National Arts Centre and was featured twice on CBC radio in concert.
Since then, he's released six more critically acclaimed discs – Whiskey Stars (2003), Three Chord MacGyver (2005), Dirt Road Joyride (2008), Truth & Twang (2009), Joe Fournier and the Bad Ass Fajitas (2015) - and his latest acoustic release, Home Grown Sins (2016).