Gary Cain is a Canadian-born, Austin-based guitarist, singer, and songwriter with one foot planted firmly in the blues, and the other foot planted in seemingly everything else. He’s been called “ridiculously talented” and a “jaw-dropper” by Blues Matters Magazine. His debut album led one reviewer to exclaim “Oh my God, can this guy play a guitar!”
The foundation of his virtuosic style was laid via marathon practice sessions as a youngster in his parents’ basement. “Back then it’s all I would do some days – often 13, 14 hours a day. I’d have to be reminded to eat.” says Cain. “For as long as I can remember, it’s been a huge part of who I am.”
Long days poring over the musical styles of blues legends gave him a deep respect for the music, but he’s not beholden to it. “I’m not a traditionalist.” he says, “What made those players so great was what they brought to the music to make it their own. Albert King was the best Albert King there’ll ever be. You gotta do your own thing with it.”
Cain’s blazing guitar work in the blues clubs of Canada soon attracted the attention of an international talent-buyer, landing him a 6-nights-a-week house-band gig in Dubai’s largest nightclub. Playing pop tunes paid well, but eventually led to burnout, and a return to Canada. “I didn’t touch my guitar for 3 months after I got back, which I hadn’t done since I first picked it up as a kid. It had always been my favorite thing, and somehow I’d made it into a chore. Eventually I just thought back to what made me love it in the first place, playing strictly for the joy and expression of it, not to fit other people’s expectations. Lots of people want you to fit into their box. In the end the most important thing is you stay true to yourself. I’m thankful to have learned that lesson early on and it’s something I’ll never forget.”
After returning to Canada he concentrated on making a name for himself with his own original material, culminating in his critically-acclaimed debut album, “Twangadelic Bluesophunk” featuring drummer Don McDougall and bassist Tom Nagy. Following several international tours, a top-5 finish in Grammy-winner Lee Ritenour’s prestigious Six String Theory guitar competition, a semifinalist finish at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, and an opening gig for George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Cain moved Southwest to music mecca Austin, Texas just in time for a worldwide pandemic.
The shut-downs and tour cancellations of COVID made way for marathon days of practice and writing, culminating in Cain’s powerhouse second album, “Next Stop” hailed by Blues Blast Magazine as “a stunning tour de force of musicianship”.
“It’s a tricky thing, because I tend to go over really well with blues audiences, but a lot of the gatekeepers of the blues world don’t want to hear what you’re doing unless it falls within a very narrow traditional sound. I think everything I do has blues at its heart - I just don’t want to do exactly what’s been done before.”
Faced with pressure to conform to a more traditional blues aesthetic, 2024 instead sees Cain double-down on going his own way with the release of his 3rd full-length album “Outside The Lines”, further staking out his own style and artistic voice while still maintaining a strong connection to his blues roots.
“Blues is the hub of where I like to go musically. I’ve got to stretch out, explore and take risks, but at my core I’m still that 5-year-old kid laying on the family room floor in front of the record player with Albert Collins cranked in the headphones.”
"a fearless lyricist, a ripping guitarist, and a creator with his own ideas about how to play this game of ours, which means you need to be listening."
- Rock and Blues Muse (USA)
Gary is an Official Artist for Fractal Audio Systems, and GHS Strings.