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Big City

Got You Covered

by Jaclyn Killins

M.J. Mullen, Leigh Pursey, Shane Coady, Joey Kitson

St. Patrick’s day came early at The Wave and for entertainment on March 14 they called in the rock and roll services of Big City. The band, formed six years ago, now consists of Joey Kitson on lead vocals, M.J. Mullin on guitar, Leigh Pursey on bass, with Nat Lamoureux and Shane Coady sharing drumming duties.

Before the show someone clued me in that Kitson is one of the best vocalists from PEI. It didn’t take long to understand why. Best known as lead singer of the Celtic rock band Rawlins Cross, Kitson’s voice is versatile and solid, hitting the high notes of a song like “Billy Jean” and the low notes of “Folsom Prison” without wavering.

The night started off slow but the band was hot and the crowd kept accumulating until there was barely room to move. By the end of the last set the entire pub had become a dance-floor and it was clear this was the best party in town.

Here’s a slice of my email interview with Joey Kitson:

How do you know the members of your band?

I’ve played with these guys in many different groups over the years. They are some of the best musicians the Island has to offer.

What does each member bring to the mix?

Beyond their musical ability, it’s their professionalism that makes Big City a success. We have a good chemistry, and diverse musical backgrounds and tastes. This allows us to cover a lot of different musical styles and genres. Not every band can play to a crowd at the Wave or a wedding at the community hall in Fortune.

What is your favourite style of music to perform?

I have a varied musical taste. Oddly enough, with Big City, I tend to enjoy the songs we play that have a strong country/southern rock influence. I think we do a decent job of that type of material.

What is the best thing about performing in a cover band?

Depending on the crowd or night, you never know what you are going to be expected to perform.

What is the worst thing?

The success/enjoyment with a cover band is driven by the crowd response. As long as the crowd is digging your performance, things are as easy as pie. It’s those nights when the crowd is thin and lacking enthusiasm, that performing feels more like work. Fortunately that doesn’t happen very often.

I had cover bands pigeonholed as entertainment for a more mature crowd but last night the University Pub was hopping. What is it that makes your performance accessible to all?

It’s all about your repertoire, and ability to read the crowd effectively. You have to be able to “give the people what they want,” no matter who they are or where you are performing. If you can do that, you can be successful in this game.

Is there anything else you want to say?

I just wanted to add that for such a small province, we have a high quality of local musicians. It’s important for people to get out and support both cover bands and original artists. We are lucky to have them around.

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