“The Blues Can loves Shorty ... he is welcome to play here absolutely anytime, any day, with anyone. The vibe is always terrific, and the dance floor is pumping”
-Greg Smith, Owner, The Blues Can
Ethan Askey is an emerging singer-songwriter in the roots, blues and soul music landscape. Having served a long apprenticeship as studio session player and sideman to all sorts of projects, he has played literally from coast to coast to coast in Canada and is best known (as Shorty) in his adoptive Calgary music community in the RocknRoll Mountains.
“Shorty” also has played stages in Chicago and in Memphis, but he’s more familiar with the MacKenzie River delta in the Arctic coastal lowlands than with the Mississippi delta. He was practically born with a paddle in one hand, and a harmonica in the other. And no matter whether he’s camped along a northern river or in the depths of the Grand Canyon or having a hang in the salsa Caribbean or bohemian Czech Republic, he’s rarely without his chosen instruments. He makes music in unlikely places with friends old and new.
An explorer of places wonderful and wild, this nature boy recently has pulled together some of his friends to raise the roof with him in giving voice to songs in the key of his life.
Walk When You Wanna Run is the title of his new release, a collection of songs that one might categorize as modern blues. The title track recounts a visit he made to the south side Chicago home of Junior Wells (“godfather of blues”, bandmate of Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters), years after making his acquaintance at Calgary’s infamous King Eddy. Singing of stray bullets, fish delivery and bear country, he shares a pivotal experience in his personal journey as a musician and offers a fresh take on the funky urban electric blues that Junior Wells was known for.
In addition to this solo effort - Ethan Askey & the Elevators are now booking for 2024 - Shorty is active with other recording artists and live performing projects, notably as frontman to the blues club dance band MOJO, and as sideman both to southern Alberta roots songsmith Dave McCann (& the Firehearts) and to northern bluesman Jimmy Guiboche (Jimmy & the Sleepers). In the past decade he’s been a busy session player and collaborator with roots blues artist Darren Johnson, honkytonk country performer Matt Masters, country funkster Ridley Bent and others. He's been honoured by the Calgary Blues Music Association and by opportunities to share stages with luminaries such as Amos Garrett and British bluesman John Mayall.
When not making music, he may be spotted deep in the bush running rapids or riding the rocks, forest bathing perhaps, or high on a mountain top. “I find peace in the woods, and challenge in the elements, with my full focus on the natural world around me in the moment. I like to balance that with city life, with its people-ness and shared experience, the stories and songs. You see, I’ve been moved by music, and making music, since I was born. With all people everywhere, and across language barriers, I’ve found that rhythms and tonal colours are ties that bind - and liberate - if that’s not contradictory... you know what I mean?”
Maybe you just have to give a good listen and judge for yourself as to what he really means.
“Soulful grooves and dirty blues that really get under your skin... one of those albums that, once you lend an ear, really get under your skin” 5/5
-John Kerieff, The Rock Doctor (Hot Wax album reviews)
“Shorty is a soul connector. His musical conviction and humble charm are the things that great music scenes are made of”
-Scotty Hills, Musician and Producer
The new release Walk When You Wanna Run (2022) can be found on all streaming platforms and is available to purchase as CD or digital download at Bandcamp (click the "SHOP" button). You’re invited to join the Bandcamp community if you haven’t already, where you can send your support directly to the artist and discover other music too.
With steady international radio play, the album earned the #99 chart position in the Roots Music Report "Best of 2022" for contemporary blues worldwide. It charted as high as #4 and remained in the "Top 50 Albums in Canada" weekly charts almost continuously for 11 months.
Get on the mailing list for updates and reach out by email below if you'd like to pre-order vinyl.
Purchase or Download the Newest Release
"Walk When You Wanna Run" on Bandcamp.
Walk When You Wanna Run was mixed and co-produced by Maple Blues and JUNO Award winning roots and blues artist Steve Marriner. Joining Marriner (Colin James Band, MonkeyJunk on bass, guitar, keys) is a diversity of standout Canadian players: Doug Boland (MOJO, The Von Zippers), Jimmy Bowskill (The Sheepdogs, Blue Rodeo), Brad Carter (Blues Devils, Sonny Rhodes), Mike Clark, Corbett Frasz, Robbin Harris, Scotty Hills, Sammy Jean, Darren Johnson, Ian McKeown, Steve O’Connor, Steve Pineo (Billy Cowsill & The Co-Dependents), Yolanda Sargeant (Sargeant x Comrade), Luis Tovar, and Aaron Young (The Mocking Shadows).
Ethan "Shorty" Askey has a passion for serving the song as a soloist and sideman for both live performance and studio recording sessions. He has big ears. As a versatile musician and singer he has made cool music with countless others, in all styles. And he’s game for more.
Maybe you’re making a record or pulling together a tour? He’d like to hear from you. Here’s a sampling of some session work with his signature tone, textures and rhythms.
Woebegone “Daniel Was”, from the album Where’s the Club? Feat. Beau Dixon vocal, Ethan Askey harmonica and backing vocal. Produced by Rob Demarco at One Drop Studio, Whistler, BC.
The Honeymans “Re-Entry”, from the album Stompin’ Grounds. Feat. Neil MacDonald, fiddle and Ethan Askey, harmonicas. Produced by Ben Blomander
at PB Audio, Kimberley, BC
The Hardrock Miners “Tattoo Too”, from the album Rock and Roll Welfare. Hypnotic/A&M Records. Feat. Ethan Askey, harmonica. Produced by Michael Phillip Wojewoda at Armoury Studios, Vancouver, BC.
Heyoka’s Mirror “Deal with the Devil”, from the album The Uninvited King. Feat. Andrew Balboa, vocals; Omar Sultan, guitar; and Ethan Askey, harmonica. Produced by Casey Lewis at Echo Base Studios, Calgary, AB
COUNTRY & SPIRITUAL
Mark Loewen “Born yesterday” from the album The Ropes. Feat. Ethan Askey, harmonica. Produced by Mark Troyer at Evergreen Studios, Calgary, AB
Robb Moss “Keep on ridin’ “, from the album Sometimes We Win. Feat. Charlie Hase, pedal steel and Ethan Askey, harmonica. Produced by Robb Moss, Airwaves Studio, Calgary, AB
Jim Munro “The Blues Won’t Own Me”, single. Feat. Fiona Cosgrove, vocal; Jeff Muller, guitar; Ethan Askey, harmonicas. Produced by Jeff Muller at Alchemy Studios, Calgary, AB