Gains cites K-W as helping him in the start
Cambridge native Conor Gains was eight-years-old when he received his first Fender Stratocaster from his dad. Now at the age of 21, Gains has just released his first album, Run Away With the Night, and has finished up touring across the country with The Conor Gains Band.
I’ve known Gains personally since we were kids and he was always known as that kid who lived and breathed blues guitar. It was always assumed that he would play at school functions and he never needed much time to prepare. The first time I saw him play we were 12 years old. During an assembly in front of our middle school, he played a guitar solo behind his head. I had never seen anything like it, especially from someone so young.
While chatting with Gains, he reminisced about the first time he played in front of a large audience.
“My mom and her boyfriend at the time were regulars at the Huether Hotel,” he explained. “The Huether used to have open mic on Saturday afternoons. I remember seeing guys a couple years older than me, in their mid to late teens, ripping blues guitar really good … I remember being amazed by these kids that could just jam and make music together.”
Gains first played at the Huether Hotel when he was only 12 years old.
After feeling the high of playing in front of audiences, Gains got together with two other local musicians and started playing at small bars in the Kitchener-Waterloo area.
He continued to play with these two guys until he was 19, then the three parted ways.
Later, Gains started up The Conor Gains Band with current band members Mack Jordan, Mikey Vee and Aaron Hernandez.
One of Gains’ biggest accomplishments to date was playing at both B.B. King’s bars in Memphis and Nashville while he was playing other venues in the South.
“My old man was my manager, and he would take us on little road trips. We started going to the states a lot,” Gains said.
His dad must have known what he was doing, because at 14, Gains played with B.B. King’s band, The B.B. King All-Star Band, while B.B. King himself was in the audience.
When asked who his biggest influence was, Gains didn’t hesitate to say that his dad has played a huge part in his success. He was the person who bought Gains’ first guitar, who set him up with lessons and who scheduled his shows and tours. Gains explained that as a kid he really enjoyed hard rock and metal, but it was his dad’s extensive record collection that introduced him to the world of blues.
The second time Gains made it back to Memphis, he was 17: There he played in the International Blues Challenge, where bands from all over the world come together to compete. The first time Gains’ competed he made it to the quarterfinals.
The Conor Gains Band recently won the 2014 Toronto Blues Society Talent Search, which is sending them back to Memphis to represent Toronto and play in the International Blues Challenge again this winter.
“This summer we did a cross-Canada tour from Halifax to British Columbia,” Gains said when asked what is currently going on with The Conor Gains Band. “That was the best summer I’ve had. The reason I wanted to go in the first place was just to network.”
The tour was scheduled to promote their new album, which was recorded at the Sound Distillery in Kitchener. Gains explained the album doesn’t fit into a typical genre.
“It kind of crosses a whole bunch of them,” he said.
After listening to the album several times, I’d have to agree with him. The album is fun and upbeat, with tones of old school blues and new age rock. Each song has its own distinct sound, yet comes together to produce a solid album you won’t get bored of.