by Jill Hamilton
If it’s a Saturday night in PEI, Bad Habits are probably playing a crowded blues show somewhere.
The clinking of tambourines, extended guitar and drum solos and soaring, heart-quaking vocals are regular features of a Bad Habits show—and they’ve only just begun. Bad Habits was recently nominated for two PEI Music Awards—Entertainer of the Year and Bell Aliant Weekend Warrior (which they won). On a national scale, the band has garnered much attention on ReverbNation.com, reaching #1 on the international Hot Blues charts and #49 on the blues charts in North America. These accolades are especially impressive for a band less than two years old.
Newcomers to a Bad Habits show might recognize vocalist Amanda Jackson from The Waterman Blues Band. She joined Bad Habits in September. “I found it a very exciting challenge. Blues comes naturally to me so I knew the genre would fit,” Jackson said. “Once I filled in a couple of gigs with the boys, I knew in my bones this was a good match.”
Drummer Liam Kearney has been performing live since age 14, but for guitarists Jason Condon and Dale McKie and bass player Matt Wilson, being in a band is a new experience. Making the transition to live performances was a big step for Condon, but the positive energy from fans made it easier. “It’s a feeling you don’t really get from anything else,” he said. “You feel the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. Your toes curl up a little.”
Bad Habits has played almost every Charlottetown venue and all over PEI. They are booked for festivals next summer in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and plan to play Moncton and Halifax shortly. “We want to take the Bad Habits show on the road and let everyone else know what the fuss is about,” said Wilson.
Performing isn’t just about playing music, said McKie. “We bring a few dozen [tambourines] to every show and hand them out to the audience so they can play along and have some fun,” he added. “It’s our duty to make sure you have a good time.”
Bad Habits plans to breathe some soul into a debut album and are heading to the studio in the spring. “We want to make something great,” McKie said. “We’re building a really good catalog of songs. Songs we really care about.”
Every show and rehearsal is full of laughs, said Kearney. “Who knew making blues music could be so much fun?”